Sexuality and sexual activity in pregnancy

BJOG. 2000 Aug;107(8):964-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2000.tb10397.x.


Objectives: To evaluate women's sexual experience in pregnancy, and to describe their sources of information regarding sexuality during this period.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: The offices of obstetricians providing obstetric care in a tertiary care university hospital in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

Population: One hundred and forty-one pregnant women.

Methods: Pregnant women anonymously completed self-administered questionnaires regarding sexuality and sexual activity during pregnancy. Responses were summarised using descriptive statistics, and comparisons were made between the trimesters of pregnancy. Multiple logistic regression was performed to assess the influences of a variety of factors on sexual activity.

Results: Vaginal intercourse and sexual activity overall decreased throughout pregnancy (P = 0.004 and 0.05, respectively) with the trimester of pregnancy being the only independent predictor. Most women reported a decrease in sexual desire (58%). Overall, 49% of women worried that sexual intercourse may harm the pregnancy. Concerns regarding sexual activity leading to preterm labour or premature rupture of membranes increased as the pregnancy progressed (P < 0-001 and P = 0-001, respectively). Only 29% of women discussed sexual activity in pregnancy with their doctor and 49% of these women raised the issue first, with 34% feeling uncomfortable in bringing up the topic themselves. Most women (76%) who had not discussed these issues with their doctor felt they should be discussed.

Conclusions: A reduction in sexual activity, vaginal intercourse and sexual desire occurs in many women as pregnancy progresses. Both the woman and her partner have concerns regarding complications in the pregnancy as a result of sexual intercourse. The majority of women wish to discuss these issues with their doctor, but are not always comfortable raising the topic themselves.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexuality / psychology