masturbation during pregnancy: pregnant woman making a heart shape over her belly

When women think of pregnancy, the words “sexual pleasure” and “masturbation” are unlikely to come to mind. I often get questions like, “Is it OK to masturbate during pregnancy?”, and “Can you use sex toys when pregnant?” The answer is ‘yes!’.

This often-forgotten area of a woman’s life shouldn’t take a back seat just because she’s pregnant. If anything, maintaining a healthy and active solo sex life is important for both your physical and mental wellbeing (of course, that’s only if your doc has given you the all clear for sex – make sure you ask at your first appointment).

ALSO READ: Is sex during pregnancy really safe (the GOOD news: it IS!)?

In the first trimester many women struggle with nausea and feeling particularly unsexy. This is completely normal and generally passes as you move into the second trimester. If this passes, you might feel ready for you and your partner to reconnect sexually, but no matter where you are in your pregnancy, there are certain things that are really helpful to know when it comes to self-pleasure.

Stick to your routine

Being pregnant doesn’t mean your usual routines should stop, and this includes masturbation. If you’ve always been a woman who’s keen to explore her body and bring herself pleasure, pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to slow down. You should listen to your desires and meet them in whatever way works for you. If you’ve always enjoyed using your hands to masturbate, there’s no need to stop (until you can’t reach your vulva anymore!).

Most sex toys are safe during pregnancy

If you’ve been using toys pre-pregnancy, you don’t have to stop using them – most are totally safe, just check the label and listen to your body! If your doctor has said sex is fine, then most sex toys will be safe for you to use as well. With any sex toy use (pregnant or not) you should follow usual routines such as cleaning them properly with a suitable toy cleaner or warm soapy water, and store them in a clean place. Never use a toy anally and then vaginally without cleaning in between! Sex toys are also usually harder and more solid than an actual penis, so it’s important to be aware of being too rough. Again, listen to your body! If you’re keen to buy a new toy when you’re pregnant, make sure it is “phthalate free” as this type of plastic can be harmful to pregnant women. If in doubt, rather don’t use your old toy internally.

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Check your lubes and tubes

Lubes and tubes of things need a little extra care and caution. Make sure you read the labels of any new product you’re using to pleasure yourself. Some products are heavily scented or contain ingredients that aren’t suitable for pregnant women. If you’re unsure, don’t use it. Stick to more natural lubricants, such as Pjur silicone lubricant or an organic range like Yes!

Take advantage of the situation

Things will feel even better than usual. Due to the increase in hormones in your body during pregnancy, you’re likely going to experience more arousal and sensation. You might find that the sensations from your rabbit vibe are even more exciting and pleasurable. Learn to go with what feels good for you and explore your body while it’s in this heightened state. Erogenous zones are as important as clitoral stimulation – don’t just focus on your breasts, nipples and vulva when you masturbate. Include your neck, lips, ears, lower stomach etc. These areas are heightened to sexual pleasure and will lead to a more satisfying sexual experience overall.

DON’T FORGET TO READ: Advice on how to feel sexy again after having a baby

Catriona Boffard, clinical sexologist
Catriona is an accredited clinical sexologist, psychotherapist, sexuality researcher & speaker. She is an expert in the field of sexual behaviour, intimacy, relationships and mental well-being, with a particular interest in helping people create or reestablish sexual intimacy and empowering women to embrace their sexuality. She has delivered her expertise across media, business and private platforms and is a globally recognised voice in the field of sex, pleasure and relationships. She runs a global practice online, consulting with clients from around the world, but has a practice in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, United Kingdom.