Knocking Boots and Knitting Booties is a no-holds-barred series about sex during pregnancy from MsBehaved contributor Brighid. Last time, Brighid battled the libidinal demands of the second trimester. In this installment she discovers some unexpected hurdles for getting her freak on with husband MVP. (Hint: it’s not the big belly…)
Well, I promised you pregnancy lingerie, but it’s a promise I’m going to break (this week at least). I’m 26 weeks along and for the first time MVP and I have run into some serious pregnancy complications. Nothing serious, medically everything is fine – but we’re facing some major issues in the bedroom that we’re still trying to trouble shoot.
Around week 20, I started noticing that my vaginal canal felt “fuller”. Not quite swollen, but definitely a bit fluffed up, in part from the extra blood I’m pumping, and in part from the pressure of the uterus on my vagina. At first, this felt great. Though I soon realized that the increased blood flow = increased restriction & friction = increased feeling of chafing.
For the first two weeks it meant that I didn’t have the stamina for long sex because I’d get sore and raw after about 10-15 minutes. We use a variety of lubes (we’re lube junkies), but they only helped so much. About two weeks ago, my stamina cut down again to about 5- 10 minutes of penetration. Last week we had a sex date planned following MVP’s business trip. I pulled out the lingerie, set up some props and sex toys – we were all ready to go.
Unfortunately, my body was having none of it. Penetration of any kind (digital, penile) produced a burning sensation the entire length of my vaginal canal. It felt so raw, swollen and painful that our sex-date turned into a hold-me-while-I-cry-because-my-vag-is-broke sort of evening.
Frustrated and terrified that I wouldn’t be able to have penetrative sex for the rest of my pregnancy, I spent the weekend trying to figure out what is going on. If it were a weekday I would have called my midwife, but it was a weekend so I knew I had to wait at least until Monday. So I made a list of things that could produce the burning and swelling and started troubleshooting with the help of Dr. Google.
During pregnancy, the ph of the vagina changes. This can leave it susceptible to things like Bacterial Vaginosis and yeast infections. I didn’t have any of the classic signs of either– discharge and odor, or itching- but I did have the swelling and searing pain that seems to accompany a whole host of vaginal infections. It’s not recommended you use over the counter yeast infection treatments when pregnant, but as Ms Behaved readers will recall, Ms. Behaved founder Sarah Saxon and nutritional consultant Ilah Jarvis recently recounted their battles with Candida and natural remedies in Battle of the Beasties Yeasties parts one and two! I decided to give one of these remedies a spin.
I was out of garlic, but I did have a giant tub of plain Greek yogurt in the fridge. Saturday evening I grabbed the yogurt and a towel, and slathered as much yogurt as I could manage on my vagina and labia. Yup, nothing like spending Saturday night sitting on a towel with yogurt all over your vag. For those wondering, Greek yogurt has the advantage of being thicker and less runny, and therefore easier to apply and keep in place. Yes, it’s out of the fridge, but the cooling sensation on my burning nether-regions was really fantastic. No one seemed to mention how long to apply my yogurt pack, so I hung out on my towel for about 20 min. After washing up, the swelling had reduced and the burning had gone away. The next day I felt even better – not totally normal, but close.
Emboldened, we decided to put me to the test… but sex was still a no-go. The yogurt helped quite a bit, but I was still raw and really uncomfortable. After a bit more reading we realized that part of my problem maybe the pressure of my uterus on my vaginal canal. This pressure causes hemorrhoids and all other sorts of unpleasant things in pregnant woman, and can have a strong impact on the vagina. The yogurt was helpful and may have cleared up some ph/candida problems that were hanging around, but it was not a solution. So how does one relieve uterine pressure on her vag?
We decided to try three thing: inversion, a pregnancy support belt, and sexual positions that did not involve having my uterus above my cervix. This meant no me-on-top, no me-on- edge-of-couch, no me-on-my-back. Inversion was easy, I used the inverted bench at the gym and enjoyed the exquisite feeling of my uterus stretching. Support belt was also easy –I use a running support belt that works like a push up bra for your belly. Sex was scary, but after a few days we tentatively decided to give good old doggie-style a whirl. And it went off without a hitch. No burning, the swelling is back to normal, no pain, just pure, un-chafed pleasure for the first time in 6 weeks.
When I got pregnant, I assumed that the biggest changes I’d have to face were related to my growing belly. I figured exercise would change because my weight and shape would change. I figured sex would change because we’d have to work around the belly. What I never counted on were the internal changes. My exercise routine changed immediately because pregnancy made my heart race faster with less effort, and my core temp is higher. Sex is different because the extra blood and pressure are causing vaginal swelling, not because a belly is getting in the way. We’re both incredibly relieved we were able to figure this one out – and
even if the yogurt wasn’t the solution, it actually felt damn good as a pussy-spa treatment.