Sexuality During Pregnancy

Content Written By: Joana Rocha Pauleta, MD, Nuno Monteiro Pereira, MD, PhD, and Luís Mendes Graça, MD, PhD

Abstract: Journal of Sexual Medicine

Introduction. Sexuality is an important part of health and well-being. Sexual behavior modifies as pregnancy progresses, influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors.

Aim. To evaluate changes in sexual perceptions and activities during pregnancy and to determine sexual dysfunctions in that period.

Main Outcome Measures. Sexual perceptions (desire from the partner, feelings of attractiveness, and fear of sexual intercourse), sexual activities during pregnancy (sexual intercourse frequency, the most frequent sexual intercourse trimester, sexual activity during the birth week, type(s) of sexual intercourse, changes in sexual satisfaction and desire compared with the pre-pregnancy period, and changes in sexual intercourse frequency during each trimester compared with the pre-pregnancy period), and sexual dysfunctions.

Methods. Puerperal women were asked to anonymously complete a self-administered and structured questionnaire at the day of discharge from hospital.

Results. One hundred and eighty-eight women, aged between 17 years and 40 years with a mean age of 28.9 years, were analyzed. The first trimester was considered the most frequent period of sexual intercourse (44.7%), followed by the second trimester (35.6%). Fifty-five percent reported a decrease of sexual activity during the third trimester. Fear of sexual intercourse was referred by 23.4% of the women questioned. Sexual satisfaction was unchanged in 48.4% of the subjects and decreased in 27.7% (P < 0.0001); sexual desire is reported to be unchanged in 38.8% and decreased in 32.5% (P = 0.196) of the population. Vaginal, oral, anal sex, and masturbation were performed by 98.3%, 38.1%, 6.6%, and 20.4% of the women, respectively.

Conclusions. We determined in our study that sexual satisfaction do not change in pregnancy compared with the pre-pregnancy patterns despite a decline of sexual activity during the third trimester. A discussion of expected changes in sexuality should be routinely done by the doctor in order to improve couples' perception of possible sexual modifications induced by pregnancy. Pauleta JR, Pereira NM, and Graça LM. Sexuality during pregnancy. J Sex Med 2010;7:136–142.

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