Is pregnancy putting your sex life on pause?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

If you and your partner are expecting, congratulations! All that conception sex I talked about last week has finally paid off. And after months - or more - of timing your sexual rendezvous to an ovulation schedule, it may seem like there's no better time to take a timeout in the bedroom.

After all, you'll likely be preoccupied with all sorts of pre-baby activities, from registering for strollers, to choosing a name, to painting the nursery. Factor in the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy, and sex may be the last thing on both of your minds.

But you don't need to put your sex life on hold for the next nine months. In fact, conception and pregnancy can increase your sexual intimacy with your partner, and you may never feel closer.

Of course, the hormonal changes of pregnancy can make many women feel nauseated, achy, stressed, tired, cranky, unattractive, or simply too tired to even think about making love, points out Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., author of "Sex and the Baby Years." Others can feel strong, sexy, and ultra-feminine and actually experience increased sexual desire.

A woman's feelings about her own attractiveness may not always line up with the way her male partner feels. A 2010 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 41.5 percent of women said they felt less attractive or sensual while pregnant---but 75 percent said their partners didn't find them any less desirable.

And some guys simply feel closer to their partners during pregnancy, which they may express sexually.

Yet other men experience decreased desire when they and their partners are expecting.

It may just take a little foreplay to jumpstart arousal. Consider this, too: Increased blood flow and sensitivity in a woman's genitals can lead to more intense and pleasurable orgasms during pregnancy, particularly the second semester. The ability to give his partner amazing orgasms can be a turn-on for many men, presenting a sexy win-win situation for some couples.

Finally, don't forget that once your baby is born, you will likely need to wait six to eight weeks before you can resume intercourse. When you do get the go-ahead, you may be so stressed out and tired that sex sinks to the bottom of your to-do list. Sex may be different during pregnancy, but I also urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy your sex life - before it changes forever.

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