Maybe you’ve seen this magazine cover blasting the words “Pregnant & Cheated On!” over Kylie Jenner.

What?!  How could any man cheat on his partner when she’s carrying his child?  Does this ever really happen?

Yes, unfortunately, affairs do happen during pregnancy.  But if it happens to you, you are likely to feel like you’re the only one in the world.  I’ve even heard women express relief when I tell them I’ve treated other couples from an affair during pregnancy.  On the other hand, no one is really certain how many men have affairs during pregnancy because the topic is so taboo and shameful.

What causes affairs during pregnancy?  These are a few factors I discuss in my upcoming book Counseling Couples Before, During, and After Pregnancy: Sexuality and Intimacy Issues:

  • Distracting oneself from confusion about changes in the relationship
  • Feeling pushed out from the relationship a woman is forming with the growing baby
  • Coping with fears about losing one’s wife during labor by finding another partner
  • Satisfying sexual needs if wife is unavailable or lacks interest

In short, a man may get involved in an affair during pregnancy because he wants to avoid his negative feelings.  He also may feel it would be wrong to express negative feelings because he thinks everyone around him is thrilled to pieces about the impending birth.  He may think that because he is male, and especially because he is going to be a father, he must show his partner, family, and friends that he is strong.  He then saves his vulnerable side to share with his affair partner.

The partner may be blameless, but it is also possible that she played a role in creating the conditions for an affair to develop.  She also may be distracted with preparations for baby showers and the nursery.  She may also be exhausted, or self-absorbed as she focuses her attention on changes in her body.

Though nobody likes to talk about it, sexual problems can develop during pregnancy.  While some women feel great and have a lot of sexual energy, others find that pregnancy is exhausting and they lose their drive.  And while some women may have their first orgasm during pregnancy because of increased blood flow to the pelvis, others may find orgasm during pregnancy difficult or even uncomfortable.  Men sometimes avoid having sex with their pregnant partner to avoid hurting her, even if they’ve been given the go-ahead to have intercourse.

It can be difficult to recover from an affair that happened during pregnancy.  If the man had an affair because he feels inadequate or confused, the presence of the infant with all of his or her needs may make things worse.  Also, while most couples struggle a bit to regain their sexual relationship after pregnancy, couples affected by an affair may face a more difficult path to intimacy.

Can couples recover from an affair during pregnancy?  Of course, it is possible.  If the man is remorseful and the couple can listen openly to each other, then the chances are they will figure out their relationship.  Especially if the problem is sexual, a sex therapist can offer a safe place and help the couple communicate about what happened, why, and what needs to change.  It is possible to move on if a woman is “pregnant & cheated on.”