Sex During Pregnancy
Couples often worry about having sex during pregnancy. They may be afraid that having sex could cause a miscarriage or harm the baby. With a normal pregnancy, sex is safe into the last weeks of pregnancy.
The baby is well cushioned by amniotic fluid and the strong muscles of the uterus. There is also a thick mucus plug that seals the cervix and helps to protect against infection.
It is best to talk to your doctor or nurse midwife about your specific situation to make sure you are considered at low-risk for complications such a pre-term labor or miscarriage. Your doctor may advise you to limit your sex if there are signs or complications during your pregnancy.
Changes In Sexual Drive
You and your partner may experience increases and decreases in sexual drive during the pregnancy. This is common during the different phases of pregnancy and will be different for everyone.
During the FIRST trimester many women experience extreme breast tenderness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and an increased need to urinate that might decrease their sexual drive. Some couples have a feeling of increased closeness that may influence their sexual desires.
Many women find that during the SECOND trimester the initial symptoms have gone away and they have an increased desire for sex. One theory for the increased desire is the increased blood supply in the pelvic region. Some women find freedom from birth control appealing and this adds to the continued sense of special closeness with their partner.
The desire for sex may change again in the THIRD trimester. Your abdomen is enlarged and it may make it awkward to have sex. Some women feel unattractive physically, while others may feel the essence of femininity and this may increase their sexual desire or the desire of their partner.
Most importantly, the key to dealing with changes in sexual desire is to communicate with your partner and share feelings with each other. Even with the changing desires for sex during pregnancy, some women have an increased desire for closeness like physical affection, gentle touching, and cuddling.
Having sex as your pregnancy progresses may be difficult or uncomfortable. There are a variety of positions that seem to work with greater comfort. These include:
- Lie sideways, either facing each other or in the spoon position. This keeps your partner's weight off your abdomen. It also allows for shallow penetration and may be more comfortable the further you are into the pregnancy.
- Woman on top.
- Rear entry.
- If you lie on your back at the side or foot of the bed and bend your knees, your abdomen is not in the way and your back still has support. Your partner can stand or kneel in front of you.
- Use your imagination and humor and work together to find positions that are comfortable for both of you.
If you have oral sex, air should not be blown into your vagina. This can cause an air embolism or an air bubble to get in your bloodstream and block a blood vessel. This can be fatal to you and your baby.
When Limitations May Be Needed
There are some conditions or complications with pregnancy that may impact having sexual intercourse. Your doctor, nurse midwife, or other health care provider will advise you to limit or avoid sex if you have such a condition. Some of these include:
- A history of miscarriage
- A history of pre-term labor
- Vaginal bleeding or cramps
- Leakage of amniotic fluid or breaking of water
- Incompetent cervix (the cervix or opening of the uterus is weak and opens prematurely, which increases the risk for miscarriage or premature delivery)
- Placenta previa (the structure that provides nourishment to the baby is in front of the cervix or in the lower part of the uterus, instead of the usual location at the top of the uterus)
- Pain with intercourse
You should call your doctor or nurse midwife if you are unsure whether sex is safe for you. If you have any symptoms that you are unsure about, such as pain, bleeding, discharge, or contractions after sex, you should contact your doctor.
Some women are advised to stop having sex in the last weeks of pregnancy. It is best to check with your doctor for specific recommendations.
Remember, talking to your partner about your sexual feelings and desires during the pregnancy are important. These conversations will help lay the groundwork for the changes that are getting ready to take place for both of you -- parenthood!
Review Date: June 29, 2001
Reviewed By: Peter Chen, M.D., Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare
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