Tips to Help Increase Libido During Pregnancy 

By Dr. Sonia Health A man leaning in to kiss a pregnant woman

Let’s face it. There are a ton of changes that occur during pregnancy—from hormones to emotions, to the way we view our bodies. It’s an exciting time to celebrate ourselves but can often be riddled with experiences that we just don’t talk about. Period. 

Like sex… 

First off, please understand that each pregnancy is its own experience with changes in sex drive, mood, weight, eating habits, and sleeping patterns. Sex during pregnancy is important for a multitude of reasons, including helping to keep the spark alive. But what happens when your sexual desire decreases? 

Start by understanding that a loss of libido and sexual arousal during pregnancy can and does occur, but it in no way means it must last. One of the first steps to understanding our libido is accepting that changes in libido and interest in sexual activity can occur at any point in life, including pregnancy. 

There are many factors that contribute to changes in libido during pregnancy, including hormone fluctuations and bodily changes, but a common misconception is that most women have a higher libido during pregnancy, which is simply not true. Changes in libido for pregnant women vary across the board. Once we accept this fact, we can move forward by exploring ways to combat this and enhance sexual arousal. Keep in mind that libido is a combination of physiologic and psychological factors—a mind-body experience so to speak. If we approach it with the same multi-factorial toolset, we will be well-equipped to handle any-and-all changes. Here are some of my favorite tips below for increasing libido during pregnancy: 

A woman with her head on another woman’s legs

1. Communication is key

Our libidos are a combination of both physiologic and psychological changes within our bodies. And this is NORMAL, especially for pregnant women. Being able to communicate these changes to our partner before sexual intercourse is more easily said than done. Building communication allows for an increase in intimacy and is often one of the first steps in combating changes in libido ahead of any sexual activity. If we can’t communicate the changes we feel, then how can we expect ourselves to be able to communicate our wants or desires?

2. Masturbation

Masturbation isn’t a bad way to get to know ourselves again. There I said it. Yes, I mean it. Masturbation is an excellent way to increase libido during pregnancy because it increases blood flow to the vagina and pelvic floor. Stimulation like this can help regain feelings of sexual desire and arousal. Sometimes regaining our libido is an inside job and involves viewing ourselves as sexual beings first and foremost. Oftentimes due to changes in blood flow to the uterus, pelvic floor, and vagina—penetrative intercourse may not be doing the trick. Experimenting with different toys and types of stimulation both vaginally and to the clitoris may be helpful in regaining our desire for sex. 

A woman feeling her pregnant belly

3. Sleep well

Alterations in our sleep patterns can cause a flurry of downstream effects, including changes in libido. When we don’t sleep well, we are often plagued with an increased amount of fatigue and low energy, which inadvertently affects our interest in engaging in sex. One study showed that skipping out on one less hour of sleep affects libido by almost 14%! One reason may be that sleep helps to boost testosterone, thus helping sex drive. Another is that losing sleep itself increases stress and let’s be honest, who really is in the mood for sex when they feel overly stressed? 

Remember that not all sleep is created equal. Things like alcohol, screens, and certain foods can affect your sleep patterns and lack of sleep, and by that, I mean adequate, good, restorative sleep, which can and does absolutely have a drastic impact on your health. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, this includes your pelvic health. Sleep hygiene is quite important and can impact sexual intercourse. 

So, get those zzz’s! 

4. Eat well

The synergistic relationship between diet and well-being is beyond doubt. With the discovery that vitamins and minerals eradicate deficiency diseases, the role of these essential nutrients in maintaining health has been confirmed for centuries. The concept of “food as medicine” is one that most people are familiar with. So, what foods should be we eat during pregnancy? Whole foods. Processed foods can lead to a whole host of inflammatory cytokines that can affect our mood, weight, and energy levels. Studies have shown that how we eat drastically affects how we think and view ourselves. Vegetables and lean proteins are great for pregnancy sex and increasing libido. Foods high in zinc are thought to be exceptionally helpful as well. And while oysters may not be recommended during pregnancy, things like beef, pork, pumpkin seeds, and beans are also high in zinc and can be good alternatives!  

However, everything in moderation….including moderation. Be careful with red meats. They are linked to hormonal imbalances and are known to increase inflammation in the body. Aim to reduce your intake to a maximum of one to two servings per week, and always choose organic or grass-fed meats when possible. Beets, berries, and green vegetables are high in antioxidants and can be very helpful in enhancing sexual drive and performance!  

Food is important. Controlling our intake can have a profound effect on our quality of life. Understanding and implementing dietary modifications as an integral component of care is perhaps one of the most important things anyone can do for themselves. 

A pregnant woman doing yoga

5. Exercise

Exercise has been shown to increase endorphins (even during pregnancy!) and these endorphins can be a powerful tool in helping to increase our libidos. Exercise also helps to relieve stress and decrease cortisol levels which can be very helpful for interest, desire, and arousal. It has been said that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3-4 times a week can have an extraordinary effect on the rest of your day, jump-starting your metabolic engine and helping to balance your brain chemistry, blood sugar, and hormones.   

Data suggests that Americans live a generally sedentary lifestyle and that 88% of our population does not get enough exercise. I always say sexual health is a marker of our overall health. It cannot and should not be ignored. Exercise helps to increase sexual function by increasing circulation throughout our bodies which is important for arousal and orgasm, in addition to increasing energy. One of the biggest hurdles in maintaining a healthy sex life and schedule is often life itself. 

Yoga can be particularly helpful for lengthening the pelvic floor, increasing the blood flow to this area, and thereby helping your mojo. Don’t be afraid to try it; yoga is particularly helpful during pregnancy as it helps to support both the core and pelvic floor. The beauty of yoga is that there are many different types of yoga practices, and it can be fun to try new forms to see what suits your body and personality best. Ultimately some people will benefit more from breathing exercises while walking in a beautiful area, swimming, or performing other forms of body movement. Give yourself grace if you are struggling with a change in libido and invite yourself to try other things too – you never know what you might find that truly allows you to relax and become mindful! 

6. Try different positions

The changing of our bodies can absolutely affect how we practice intercourse. Not just how we practice intercourse, including sex positions. Not just how we practice intercourse, but what feels good and what doesn’t. Side-lying position during pregnancy is often a good place to start but don’t be afraid to explore other sex positions.

A pregnant woman on top of another person

7. Roleplay

Roleplaying is a great way to spice things up in relationships. This is a judgment-free zone. Roleplaying doesn’t have to be for everyone but can be for many! Roleplaying is a seductive and sultry way of fulfilling our sexual fantasies even while pregnant. Sex, arousal, and desire are all topics that are heavily stigmatized. Fantasy play and roleplaying can help us step outside that box and channel some of these hidden sexual desires and bring libido back to the surface. 

8. Lubricants are our friends

I love lube. Lubricants are great tools to try to enhance libido and arousal before pregnancy sex. I’m loving X LiquiGel, ASTROGLIDE’s new revolutionary formula that combines silicone liquid and gel lubes. X LiquiGel stays in place with little drip for a more controlled application.  

Massage and massage oils work well too! Massage is a great aphrodisiac. Massage techniques date back almost 3,000 years. Over this time, it has not only survived but also grown in popularity, a testament to its value. There are a variety of massage techniques but placing pressure along specific points that may be tender or tight helps to release banding and increase blood flow. Not only does massage release tension in those hard-to-reach places, but it also helps to release neurotransmitters like serotonin which help to reduce stress and increase libido. 

Let’s get one thing straight here. There is no right or wrong amount of sex during pregnancy. Or ever. It’s important that we listen to our bodies as they are often telling us a lot. In many cases, understanding the relationship and psychology behind or associated with decreased libido can help put the whole situation into perspective. The cumbersome process of diagnosing and treating patients with changes in libido can leave individuals feeling helpless, and this stress and frustration can often present in their symptoms. This leads to an ongoing cycle: the feeling of low libido leads to an increase in (or causes) emotional distress, anxiety, stress, or depression, which leads to further decreases in libido, which in turn leads to further stress and frustration. But a change in libido that is bothersome to you is absolutely something that deserves time, attention, and tools!  

Our bodies are great educators. Listening to changes within them is the first step to hearing ourselves. If you are continuing to experience low libido after pregnancy, learn about different ways women can embrace sexuality in motherhood.