Painful Sex During Pregnancy – The Third Trimester

Painful sex during pregnancy isn’t uncommon but it should always be discussed with your doctor. Determining the root cause can help you find relief.

The causes can vary by trimester but most issues have to do with your body preparing for the arrival of a baby. Here are the most common reasons for painful intercourse: 1. Hormonal Changes.

1. Hormonal Changes

During the second trimester, from week 14 through 27, the little human that’s growing in your belly may cause some new bodily issues that can make sex feel less than enjoyable. But sex shouldn’t stop just because you’re pregnant. The key to fixing pain during sex while you’re expecting is figuring out what’s causing it.

A common reason for painful sex during pregnancy is due to hormonal changes. For instance, the pregnancy hormone relaxin can stretch pelvic ligaments and widen your cervix which can lead to pain in that area during sex. And a cyst known as a corpus luteum can take time to disappear, which can cause pain that feels like menstrual cramps during sex.

Another hormonal change that can cause discomfort is vaginal dryness, which can make intercourse more uncomfortable for both partners. The good news is that there are lubricants out there that are safe to use during pregnancy, so try one of those options to see if it helps.

A yeast infection can also cause pain during sex, especially for moms-to-be as they have more sugar in their vaginal secretions that the yeast can feed on. And bacterial infections of the vagina or vulva are also more common in pregnancy, which can cause pain during sex as well. So if you think an infection is causing your pain, talk to your doctor right away as it could put your pregnancy at risk.

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2. Your Bump

In the third trimester, your uterus and the fetus grow to be quite large, which can put pressure on the blood vessels of your pelvic area, including your nether regions. As a result, your vagina may feel tight or swollen and you might have pain during sex.

This is called round ligament pain, and it’s caused by the cord-like structures that connect your uterus to your groin. The pain can increase or decrease during pregnancy and is usually mild, according to ob-gyns. Other causes of pain during sex in the third trimester include your pelvic muscles stretching and widening to prepare for labor and the extra weight of the uterus.

Pregnancy hormones can also cause vulva varicose veins (hemorrhoids), which can also contribute to discomfort during sex. This typically happens around month five, Levitt says, and the pain will go away after delivery.

While painful sex is rare, it should never be ignored. If you’re experiencing pain or find that sex is less pleasurable than before, talk to your doctor and try out different positions, lubrication and oral sex. You and your partner can also communicate about what is and isn’t working and figure out ways to make sex more comfortable for both of you.

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3. Your Uterus

From the front, your uterus looks like an upside-down pear, with two interior walls that form a narrow space that resembles a bowl. From the side, your uterus is flat and triangular.

The uterus is the main organ of pregnancy, and it also plays a role in sexual pleasure. Your uterus has several parts, including the muscular walls that protect babies, the sac (called the lining of the uterus) where fertilised eggs develop, and a cavity filled with cushioning amniotic fluid.

As your pregnancy progresses, the muscles and ligaments of your uterus stretch to accommodate your growing baby. This can make your uterus feel sharp or stabbing during sex. This is called round ligament pain, and it usually lasts a few seconds. If it’s painful and doesn’t go away, it could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, which is a medical emergency and needs immediate medical attention.

There are many reasons that sex may be uncomfortable during pregnancy. Hormonal changes, pressure on the uterus, vaginal dryness, and positioning can all contribute to discomfort. But communicating with your partner, using lubricant, trying different positions, and taking it slow can help alleviate the pain. Unless there’s a serious concern, it shouldn’t cause major alarm or delay in seeking medical care. However, some women experience pain during sex for no apparent reason and need to get checked out.

4. Your Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor muscles stretch from your pubic bone in the front of your body to your tailbone (coccyx) in the back. They support your pelvic organs, including your uterus, bladder and bowel. They also help stabilise your spine. You can feel these muscles by inserting a finger or two into your vaginal opening and squeezing. The muscles are intertwined and have three openings: the anus, urethra and vagina.

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As your baby grows, the round ligament (which attaches your uterus to your pelvic bones) starts to stretch. This may cause pain that lasts a few seconds when you change position, like when getting up or sitting down. This type of pelvic pain is common and usually harmless.

Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to leaking wee when coughing, exercising or sneezing (stress incontinence). They can also make it harder to have orgasms during sex and decrease your sensation in the vagina. When the muscles are too weak, internal organs like your bladder and uterus can drop down into your vagina. This is called a prolapse.

You can strengthen your pelvic floor by doing exercises developed in the 1940s by obstetrician-gynecologist Arnold Kegel. You can do these exercises while lying down or standing. It’s best to do them while lying down, as this helps you get a feel for the location of the muscles. When doing the exercises, squeeze the muscles for 10 seconds, then relax them for a few seconds before squeezing again.

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