It is completely safe for a woman to continue having sex throughout her pregnancy unless her doctor or midwife has told her otherwise.
In fact, a woman’s sex drive may increase at certain stages of the pregnancy, and sex can have some benefits.
As her belly starts to grow bigger, a woman may discover that certain positions are more comfortable for her. Talking openly about sex can help both partners to enjoy sex throughout the pregnancy.
Sex will not harm the baby at any stage during a typical, uncomplicated pregnancy. The baby is protected by strong uterus muscles, amniotic fluid, and a mucus plug that develops around the cervix.
Some people believe that sexual activity or orgasms might damage the baby, increase the chances of a miscarriage, or induce early labor. However, in a healthy pregnancy, none of these are true.
Can sex trigger labor?
Many studies have concluded that vaginal sex during pregnancy has no links an increased risk of preterm labor or premature birth.
It is possible that an orgasm or sexual penetration could induce Braxton Hicks contractions late in pregnancy.
However, if a doctor considers someone to be at high risk, they may recommend that the person avoids sexual intercourse during the pregnancy or just in the later stages.
Braxton Hicks are mild contractions that some women experience towards the end of their pregnancy. However, these contractions do not indicate or induce labor so should not be a cause for concern.
During the later stages of pregnancy, people should choose positions that do not put pressure on the pregnant belly, such as the missionary position. If a woman lies on her back, the weight of the baby might put extra pressure on her internal organs or major arteries.
Comfortable positions may include the pregnant woman being on top of her partner, side-by-side spooning, or sitting at the edge of the bed.
Oral and anal sex
Oral sex is perfectly safe to continue throughout pregnancy. However, a partner should avoid blowing air into the pregnant woman’s vagina as this can causeTrusted Source an air embolism, where an air bubble blocks a blood vessel.
Though rare, an air embolism could be life-threatening for both the woman and the baby.People should avoid anal sex followed by vaginal sex, as this could cause bacteria to spread from the rectum to the vagina resulting in infection.
When to avoid sex
A midwife or doctor may advise a woman to avoid sexual intercourse during her pregnancy if she has experienced the following:
- problems with the cervix that could increase the likelihood of miscarriage or going into early labor
- cervical incompetence, where the cervix opens prematurely
- a history of going into premature labor
- substantial blood loss or unexplained vaginal bleeding
- leaking amniotic fluid
- pregnancy with twins
- placenta previa, where the placenta partially or entirely covers the entrance to the cervix
- the waters have broken, which may increase the risk of infection
It is essential that a pregnant woman protects herself and her baby from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This means using barrier contraception, such as condoms or dental dams, during all sexual activity with new sexual partners.
Effects of pregnancy on sex drive
Pregnancy affects people’s sex drives in different ways and there is no typical response.
A boost of hormones and increased blood flow to the genitals may increase a person’s sex drive, particularly in the second trimester.
Other people may experience a decrease in their sex drive caused by fluctuating hormones, feeling less comfortable in their body, decreased energy levels, or physical pains.
In some cases, the worries and strains felt by both partners can make them less interested in sex. It is essential to be open about sex to make sure both partners are comfortable.
Can sex during pregnancy cause a miscarriage?
Having sex during pregnancy won’t provoke a miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus isn’t developing normally.
What are the best sexual positions during pregnancy?
As long as you’re comfortable, most sexual positions are OK during pregnancy. Oral sex is also safe during pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, experiment to find what works best. Let your creativity take over, as long as you keep mutual pleasure and comfort in mind.
Are condoms necessary?
Having a sexually transmitted infection during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for you and your baby. Avoid all forms of sex — vaginal, oral and anal — if your partner has an active or recently diagnosed sexually transmitted infection.
Use a condom if:
- You’re not in a mutually monogamous relationship
- You choose to have sex with a new partner during pregnancy
Are there times when sex should be avoided?
Breast stimulation, female orgasms and certain hormones in semen called prostaglandins can cause uterine contractions.
Your health care provider might recommend avoiding sex if:
- You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
- You’re leaking amniotic fluid
- Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence)
- Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervical opening (placenta previa)
- You have a history of preterm labor or premature birth
What if I don’t want to have sex?
That’s OK. There’s more to intimacy than sex. Share your needs and concerns with your partner in an open and loving way. If sex is difficult, unappealing or off-limits, try cuddling, kissing or massage.
Benefits of sex during pregnancy
Sex during pregnancy can have some benefits for a pregnant woman and her partner. Possible benefits include:
- Better orgasms. Increased blood flow to the genitals could mean an increased number of more powerful orgasms for pregnant women.
- Bonding between partners. Some couples find that sexual activity during pregnancy brings them closer together.
- A boost to the immune system. A 2004 study found that sex increases IgA which is an antibody that helps keep colds and other infections at bay.
- Keeping fit. Sex burns calories and can help to keep both partners fit.
- Increased happiness. Orgasms release endorphins that can help mother and baby feel happy and relaxed.
Sex after giving birth
All new mothers need time to heal and recover after giving birth. They should allow time for the body to recover, the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and if applicable, their C-section incisions or vaginal tears to heal.
Women can return to sexual activity whenever they feel they are ready to do so. The exhaustion and energy spent looking after the new addition to the family might mean that a woman does not want to have sex for some time after childbirth.
When to call a doctor
In a healthy pregnancy, sex is not associated with any risks to the mother or baby. Whether related to sex or not, if a woman experiences any unusual pain or bleeding during pregnancy, she should contact her doctor right away.