Hormones shift throughout pregnancy, beginning with conception itself all the way up to the days following labor. These can cause changes in your body that range from the minute to the major. Here is what you need to know:
The hormones that help create pregnancy: Your menstrual cycle is created via a virtual symphony of hormones, all of which are interconnected and play off each other. This symphony is what creates your menstrual cycle and allows you to become pregnant. At the beginning of your cycle, estrogen levels decrease and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) increases.
This causes follicle stimulation and the eventual shedding of the endometrial lining (i.e. your period). After your period, your estrogen and progesterone levels return to normal, and FSH becomes dormant until your next cycle. If your hormones are out of whack, including our FSH levels, you might struggle to become pregnant. If you are having trouble conceiving, you should visit your doctor to undergo a hormone panel.
The hormone that announces pregnancy. Once you become pregnant, your body releases human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and this is the hormone that pregnancy tests read in order to decipher if a woman is pregnant. If you are pregnant, your levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) will increase exponentially every couple of days, until you level off at around 10 weeks of pregnancy. hcG is important for a healthy pregnancy, but it can come with some unpleasant side effects including frequent urination and “morning sickness.” Symptoms such as these are part of the reason that many pregnant women simply aren’t in the mood for sex during the first trimester.
Hormone overdrive. As you continue in your pregnancy, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone will become produced at an increased level. In fact, by the end of your pregnancy, you will have 1000 times more estrogen in your body than you did before you were pregnant. That’s a whole lot of hormone! However, this high level of estrogen is crucial in helping your body to develop and grow in order to support the budding child inside of you. However, it does come with some negative side effects. For example, the increase of progesterone can lead to oilier skin (read: pregnancy acne) and it can also cause heartburn and constipation.
Hormones and libido. Increasing hormones can also come with positive side effects. An increase in estrogen causes the blood vessels to become engorged, and this also causes areas such as breasts, nipples, and vuvla to become more sensitive than ever. This means that even the slightest stimulation can get you hot and bothered. And, by the time you hit your second trimester, unpleasant pregnancy side effects such as nausea are likely to have been dulled, so you might of a wave of renewed desire.
Hormones post-pregnancy. After pregnancy, your body is still undergoing plenty of hormonal changes, particularly as you breastfeed. Prolactin, the hormone that helps to activate breastmilk, also suppresses your reproductive hormones (which is why it is difficult to get pregnant if you are breastfeeding), however, this also means that you might be as amorous. Not to mention, dealing with a newborn baby can be exhausting, so it is no wonder that many new moms just aren’t in the mood for sex.
Rest assured, your libido (and your hormones) will begin to return to normal over the coming months. Be patient, stay communicative with your partner, and find ways to up your sexual pleasure (such as with sex toys). And, most importantly, get some rest! Your libido will return before you know it.