Sex During Pregnancy

Whether or not you want to have sex during your pregnancy is a personal choice. Some women enjoy it because it takes the worry out of birth control. Others may worry about harming the baby. However, unless you are having pregnancy complications or your pregnancy is considered to be high risk, it’s generally safe to have sex while you are pregnant. Of course, you will need to choose positions that are comfortable, especially during the later months.

Path to improved safety and well being

Some women actually feel more sexy when they are pregnant, which increases their interest in having sex. Changes to your hormones and shape may contribute to that feeling. Additionally, some women have orgasms more easily (and multiple orgasms) because of extra blood flow below their waist. Pregnant women gain about 3 pounds of blood during a pregnancy, which causes the extra blood flow.

If you are having a healthy pregnancy, the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby during your pregnancy actually protects the baby. If you’re worried that sex or an orgasm will trigger your labor, don’t worry. Studies show that is not the case in a healthy pregnancy. Likewise, if you are past your due date and you want to do something to stimulate birth, sex will not trigger labor.

If your physical health or discomfort won’t allow you to have sex during pregnancy, consider it an opportunity to grow close to your partner in other ways. Holding hands, sitting close, kissing, or giving each other massages can help you feel close.

Things to consider

Talk with your doctor before having sex during pregnancy. Your doctor may advise you against it under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include:

  • Pain during sex.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Leaking amniotic fluid.
  • Your cervix opens too soon.
  • The placenta (the organ that carries food and oxygen to your baby while pregnant) covers the opening to your cervix. When this happens, it is known as placenta previa.
  • You are pregnant with multiples (more than 1 baby).
  • You have a history of miscarriage, preterm labor, or preterm birth.

Of course, if your partner has a sexually transmitted infection or disease (STI/STD), you should avoid having sex. STDs can spread to you and your baby. Having oral or anal sex requires extra caution, as well. While having oral sex, do not allow your partner to blow inside your vagina. It could create an air bubble and cause a life-threatening blockage of a blood vessel that can harm both you and your baby. This is a rare condition called an air embolism. If you have anal sex and vaginal sex immediately after, you are at risk of spreading fecal bacteria to your vagina. The bacteria can lead to an infection.

While sexual orgasms may be improved with pregnancy, there is a chance it could cause contractions in your uterus (but not labor). Orgasms and the hormones found in a man’s semen (the fluid that comes out of his penis) cause the contractions.

Physical discomfort may cause you to tell your partner you are not interested in sex during pregnancy. Your weight, back pain, breast tenderness, nausea, and certain sexual positions may be uncomfortable. Emotionally, you may not be interested either. Hormones can affect your sex drive. Worrying about the baby can also affect your desire.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • If this is my first pregnancy, how will I know what my risks are when deciding to have sex during pregnancy?
  • Will my sex drive return after I give birth?
  • Why is sex painful during pregnancy?
  • Does the baby’s position matter when deciding to have sex during pregnancy?

Resources

March of Dimes, Sex During Pregnancy