Welcome to pregnancy -- a time when many couples find their sex
life has become a roller coaster ride, with neither partner knowing what to
expect from themselves or each other.
Intimate Life Interrupted
"From raging hormones and mood swings, to incredible
fatigue, a change in body image, fears, anxieties, and sometimes, important
medical reasons not to make love, there is no question that pregnancy can cut
deep into a couple's intimate life," says Shari Lusskin, MD, director of
reproductive psychiatry at NYU Medical Center in New York.
At a time when partners should be pulling closer together,
Lusskin tells WebMD it's not unusual to find many coming apart at the emotional
Sometimes, all sense of intimacy seems to come to a dead halt
-- and neither partner understands why," says Lusskin.
If this sounds familiar, fear not. Although having sex --
specifically having intercourse -- may be out of reach for part or even all of
your pregnancy, intimacy doesn't have to take a back seat. The key, say
experts, often involves nothing more than a slight shift in thinking, and a
redefining of what it really means to be close to your partner.
"Too often couples end up thinking that if they can't have
intercourse -- regardless of the reason -- they should just stay away from each
other altogether and kind of blank out the whole concept of intimacy from their
minds," says Dennis Sugrue, PhD, past president of the American Association
of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, and co-author of Sex Matters
Instead, Sugrue tells WebMD couples need to recognize that
intercourse and orgasm are only one way to experience intimacy -- and if
it's not possible, there are other ways to stay close.
"Stroking and caressing, and sometimes just getting naked
together and sharing the way that vulnerability feels, can help keep bonds of
intimacy strong between partners -- even if intercourse isn't occurring,"