Sex during pregnancy is the absolute last thing on some women’s minds, especially when they are dealing with nausea, vomiting, and overwhelming fatigue. Other women, however, may crave sex in pregnancy. And men, too, are split into different camps regarding sex during pregnancy. Some men may find nothing sexier than a pregnant woman, but other men may be too afraid of hurting the baby or their pregnant partner to enjoy sex.
Pregnant women and their partners are often afraid to have sex. Men may think they are “invading” the home of the fetus and could actually harm the baby. In fact, the fetus is quite safe, ensconced in the uterus (womb) and the cervix (opening of the uterus) is closed in normal pregnancy. The penis has no contact with the fetus or the uterus during normal intercourse, no matter what the position. When intercourse is considered risky? Only for women who are at high risk for preterm labor and for those with placenta previa because there is increased risk for hemorrhage. Even women who have had preterm labor may safely have sex unless they have cervical incompetence or a lower genital tract infection. Women who are under the care of an obstetrician should know if they have any of these risks. The vast majority of women should be reassured that sex during pregnancy is safe for mom and baby.
Sex is usually safe.
As long as your pregnancy is progressing normally, you can have sex as often as you like (some exceptions may include a history of miscarriage or preterm labor). Be aware that it’s pretty common for some women to experience bleeding during intercourse, especially in the first trimester. This is caused by the normal swelling of capillaries in the cervix, which can burst when irritated during sex. While such spotting or bleeding is generally nothing to worry about, you should still mention it to your doctor or midwife.
What’s more, there’s typically no chance of hurting the baby during sex because the amniotic fluid and your cervix protect him. But one caution: If you have oral sex, your partner should not blow air into your vagina, as during pregnancy this can cause an air bubble to block a blood vessel.
When It May Be Risky
Many women and their partners may wonder: Is sex during pregnancy really safe? Luckily, for the vast majority of women, sex right up until their due date is perfectly safe — though it may become uncomfortable as the months pass.
In some high-risk cases, however, sex during pregnancy can be risky. Many doctors recommend that women at risk for preterm labor avoid pregnancy sex because semen contains substances that can cause the uterus to contract. Your doctor or midwife will let you know if you need to be concerned.
Having Sex During Pregnancy May Be Risky If:
- Your practitioner has counseled against it for any reason.
- You have unexplained bleeding and a history of premature birth or labor.
- You have placenta previa, a condition where a portion of the placenta covers the cervix.
- Your water has broken.
- You are currently experiencing bleeding.
- You’re in the last trimester, carrying multiples.
If you fall into one of the above risk categories, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife to clarify the length of time that intercourse should be restricted and any other specifics, such as avoiding orgasm. And always call your practitioner if you experience a discharge of bright-red blood after sex (especially if it’s accompanied by fever), or any leaking fluid.
What You May Experience After Intercourse
You may feel your uterus contract or increased fetal activity after orgasm. In fact, uterine contractions can last for up to 30 minutes after intercourse for some women. These contractions and movements are perfectly normal and you don’t need to worry about them affecting the baby.
Due to increased blood volume and engorgement, your cervix may bleed slightly after sex during pregnancy. So don’t worry if you see a bit of blood, particularly in the last trimester.
Sex in the Last Trimester
As long as your pregnancy has progressed normally, you should still be able to have sex in your last months, provided you’re not carrying multiples. Despite all the myths, no link has been established between preterm labor and sex in the last trimester. Lying flat on your back at this late stage in pregnancy, though, is not a good idea. Talk to your doctor or midwife about positions that are still safe.
Finally, once your water breaks you should not engage in intercourse or insert anything into the vagina, as this could cause infection.