Painful lovemaking in early pregnancy: 4 things you need to know

I am in my 12th week of pregnancy with our second child. My husband and I had intercourse for the first time since we found out we were pregnant. It was very uncomfortable -- almost as if I were a virgin again! He said that I was very tight. Now I feel very sore. What's up?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Whenever a woman has problems with intercourse, we look for the physical causes, but we must also pay heed to the emotional and psychological issues that may initiate or compound the problem.

1. Enjoy alternative pleasuring activities. Avoid actual penetration -- at least for a while. Manual or oral stimulation is safe and enjoyable during pregnancy. Try to find a time when you can be alone, without fear of interruption. A relaxing bath and massage can help you to enjoy each other!

2. Use lubrication. Lack of lubrication is a normal symptom in pregnancy, as estrogen levels fall and progesterone becomes the dominant hormone. This is similar to what happens during menopause. You may find that you need much more stimulation or foreplay to lubricate adequately. The use of a lubricant such as "AstroGlide" or "Slippery Stuff" can make sex much more comfortable during pregnancy.

3. Relax. "Tightness," or vaginismus may occur when the woman has a deep-seated notion that intercourse is just not right during pregnancy or that it may hurt the pregnancy or baby in some way. For some women, even though they know intellectually that this is not true, emotionally they feel that it may be harmful. This leads to a lack of lubrication, but can also lead to a constriction in the band of muscle which surround the outer third of the vagina. This condition may make intercourse difficult to impossible.

4. Talk to your care provider. Be sure to seek counsel from your care provider. If she is not receptive, seek care from a nurse midwife or more supportive physician in your area.

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