Sex During Pregnancy

Sex during pregnancy is still something of a taboo subject. Couples managing a pregnancy often wonder if they can have sex while a woman is pregnant. There are many questions regarding whether or not this will increase the risk of a miscarriage or harm the unborn baby. Outlined below are the basics about sex during pregnancy to help couples make these decisions.

Is It Safe to Have Sex During Pregnancy?

Those having a normal pregnancy can include sex as part of a healthy pregnancy routine. Movement and penetration from intercourse will not harm the baby because the fetus is protected by the uterus’ muscular walls and the abdomen. The amniotic sac fluid provides cushioning for the baby as well.

Labor contractions and those from an orgasm are not the same, but some doctors advise against sex in the final weeks of pregnancy as a precaution. This is because some doctors believe that prostaglandin hormones from semen may stimulate contractions. There is an exception for women that are overdue and hoping to induce labor. Some even believe that prostaglandins can induce labor in a past-due pregnancy by “ripening” the cervix. Others think that this connection is merely theoretical and there is no concern. Your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to participate in sex at this late stage.

When Are Condoms Necessary?

If you are exposed to sexually transmitted infections during your pregnancy it can seriously impact you and your baby’s health. You should use a condom if you are not in a mutually monogamous relationship, your partner has an STI or you opt to have sex with a new partner while pregnant.

What About Oral and Anal Sex?

Giving and receiving oral sex is safe during pregnancy as long as your partner does not blow air into the vagina. In rare cases, bursts of air into the vagina could block a blood vessel, causing an air embolism which can be life threatening for the baby and mother.

In general it is not recommend to take part in anal sex during pregnancy. This can be uncomfortable or lead to pregnancy-related hemorrhoids. Anal sex can also spread bacteria to the vagina, resulting in an infection that is dangerous during pregnancy.

What If I Don’t Want to Have Sex During Pregnancy?

It is perfectly healthy for you and your relationship if you do not want to have sex. Share these needs or your concerns with our partner in a way that is open and loving. If you find sex unappealing, difficult or you consider it to be off limits, try creating intimacy with kissing, massage, cuddling or other types of contact.

How Is Sex During Pregnancy Different?

Some women believe sex feels different when they are pregnant. At some times this may be more pleasurable, but others may find it less appealing.

  • More Pleasurable. There is increased blood flow to the pelvis which will cause the genitals to be further engorged with blood which could cause increased sensations during sex. There is also increased vaginal moisture which can be helpful during intercourse.
  • Less Pleasurable. For some, this additional engorgement may be uncomfortable. You may also experience mild cramping during or immediately after orgasm. Some find that their breasts are tender or tingly, making them very sensitive to the touch. This is particularly common during the first trimester. Some women find this to be a turn on while others find it uncomfortable and prefer their breasts not be touched.

Let your partner know if any sensations during sex are uncomfortable. If you find that you are not comfortable with the sensations or emotions associated with sex you can engage in other activities such as oral or self-stimulation, so long as these activities are pleasurable for both parties. Less sexual activities such as hugging, kissing or caressing may increase intimacy as well.

When Should You Avoid Having Sex During Pregnancy?

If you are experiencing a high risk pregnancy your doctor may advise you to avoid sex. This includes those that have experienced miscarriages in the past or are at risk for a miscarriage, those at risk for preterm labor, those who have experienced a ruptured amniotic sac, the placenta is too low, you are expecting a multiple birth, the cervix has opened too early or you are experiencing cramping, bleeding or discharge with no known cause.

It is normal to feel some cramping following intercourse or an orgasm during pregnancy. If this does not fade after a few minutes or you experience pain or bleeding following sex, call your caregiver managing your pregnancy.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding having sex you should not hesitate to call your doctor or midwife. This is especially important if you are unsure if you think you should abstain from sex or have any worries about the safety of your child. If you are told you should stop having sex, be sure you understand whether you should avoid penetration, orgasm or both.

What Are the Best Sexual Positions During Pregnancy?

It is safe to engage in most sexual positions as long as you are comfortable. You should experiment as your pregnancy to determine which positions work best.

Woman on Top

This position is generally considered safe and comfortable for those that are pregnant. Straddle your partner as they lie on the bed. This allows the women to control penetration and speed, setting it to her comfort level.

From Behind

Those comfortable with deeper penetration can have the woman place herself on her knees while her partner kneels or stands behind her, entering from behind. Pillows can be used to support the pregnant belly for increased comfort.

Sitting

A partner can sit on a sturdy chair or on the edge of the bed while the woman sits on top facing her partner or away. This keeps pressure off the abdomen, but it is somewhat more athletic which may be less ideal further into a pregnancy.

Spooning

In this position, both parties lie on their sides with the woman’s back facing her partner. The partner then enters between the thighs from behind. This minimizes pressure on the belly and minimizes penetration, making it ideal for later stages of pregnancy.

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