Sex During Pregnancy: Is It Safe, Positions And Benefits

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Many couples expecting a baby may wonder if sex during pregnancy is safe. The American Pregnancy Association says that sex is completely safe in all trimesters unless the OB/GYN advises to avoid it. Unborn babies are well-protected by the amniotic fluid and the cervical plug inside the womb. Therefore, sex does not harm them (1). Healthcare providers may advise avoiding sexual intercourse during pregnancy if there are any health concerns.

Read on to know about safe sex practices, benefits, and reasons to avoid sex during pregnancy.

Are There Benefits To Having Sex During Pregnancy?

The following are the benefits of sex during pregnancy (1) (2):

  • Sex burns calories, keeping you and your partner fit and healthy.
  • The increased blood flow to the genitals during pregnancy results in better orgasms.
  • Orgasms release endorphins, which boost your happiness and help you relax.
  • It can strengthen your emotional bond with your partner.
  • Post-coital relaxation may help you sleep better.

Which Are The Best Sex Positions During Pregnancy?

The sex positions that are usually preferred may be uncomfortable or unsafe in pregnancy. The following are some safe sex positions for pregnant women (3) (4):

  • Woman on top

This position helps the woman manage the speed and her comfort during sex. It also takes the pressure off the belly.

  • Spooning

In this position, the woman lies sideways, and her partner lies behind her. It also helps in lowering the pressure on the belly.

  • Woman on all fours

Support yourself on your palms or elbows and knees to reduce the pressure placed on the body. This position may get uncomfortable as the pregnancy progresses.

  • Woman on the partner’s lap

In this position, the partner’s body supports the woman during sex without adding pressure on the belly.

Due to increased blood flow, a woman’s genitalia is more sensitive during pregnancy. Hence, use water-based lubricants or lubricated condoms to prevent discomfort during intercourse.

How Can Pregnancy Affect Your Sex Life?

A woman’s libido may wax and wane throughout the pregnancy with physical and hormonal changes. Here are some common sex drive changes experienced during pregnancy (4):

First trimester: Changes in hormone levels and physical changes (such as breast size) can make you feel good. However, the discomforts of this trimester, such as nausea, vomiting, breast soreness, fatigue, and frequent urge to pee, may make you less interested in sex.In this trimester there is the feeling of turning inward.

Second trimester: Several women report feeling better as the discomforts of the first trimester begin to fade. Moreover, the belly is not as big as it will be in the third trimester. Some women have a higher sex drive at this time than they did before pregnancy. With increased blood flow to the genitals, orgasms happen more easily and often.

Third trimester: It is acceptable to have sex till the last day of pregnancy unless your doctor advises otherwise. Toward the end of your pregnancy, you may be consumed with thoughts of childbirth and labor, reducing your interest in sex. Further, as the belly grows, it might also feel uncomfortable.

What Are The Contraindications Of Sex During Pregnancy?

Your healthcare provider may ask you to refrain from sexual intercourse during pregnancy in the following scenarios (1) (4):

  • A history of premature birth or labor
  • Pregnancy with twins, triplets, or multiples
  • A history of miscarriage
  • Water has broken
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Low-lying placenta or placenta previa
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Dilated cervix
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in you or your partner

These factors are suggestive guidelines and do not mean you cannot have sex during pregnancy. Your doctor will consider your overall health and other factors before determining if you can indulge in sex. However, anal sex is not safe at any stage in pregnancy.

What Are The Alternatives To Sexual Intercourse During Pregnancy?

Sex is not the only way to be intimate with your partner. You can indulge in the following alternatives during pregnancy (4):

When Should You Call The Doctor?

Following sexual intercourse, if you notice these or any other unusual symptoms, contact your healthcare professional.

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Unusual pain
  • Amniotic fluid leak
  • Breathlessness
  • Reduced fetal activity

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can sex trigger labor?

Some believe that sex can trigger spontaneous labor, but the available evidence suggests it cannot (5).

2. Can sex during pregnancy hurt my baby?

Unless the doctor or midwife suggests otherwise, sex during pregnancy is safe as a penis cannot penetrate beyond the vagina, and the baby cannot feel a thing (6).

3. Is bleeding after sex normal during pregnancy?

The cervix is sensitive during pregnancy due to increased blood flow, causing bleeding after intercourse in some. It does not cause a miscarriage or other issues in most women; however, any bleeding in pregnancy should be reported to the doctor. Hold off on sex until the doctor confirms that everything is alright with the mother and baby (7).

4. Can orgasms harm the baby?

No, orgasms in pregnancy do not harm the baby. However, later in pregnancy, orgasms may cause Braxton Hicks contractions and are harmless (8).

While sex during pregnancy does not harm the mother or baby, some couples may not be on the same page regarding it. Discuss your desires and apprehensions regarding sex with your partner as it is natural for sexual desires to increase and decrease. If you notice any friction in your relationship due to differences in sexual desires, you could meet a sex counselor.

Key Pointers

  • Having sex during pregnancy increases the blood flow to the genitals and helps burn calories.
  • Positions such as woman on top or spooning help take the pressure off the belly.
  • In case of a history of preterm labor or miscarriage, doctors suggest avoiding having sex while pregnant.
  • Kissing, cuddling, or oral sex are alternatives to consider instead of sexual intercourse.

References:

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Dr. Irene (Eirini) Orfanoudaki

(PhD, MD)
Dr. Irene (Eirini) Orfanoudaki is a gynecologist-obstetrician, having a private practice in Heraklion, Crete, and collaborating with private health clinic 'MITERA' - Euromeda in Heraklion. With more than two decades of experience as a gynecologist-obstetrician, she specializes in ultrasound, colposcopy, minimal and advance gynecologic surgery, aesthetic gynecology, fertility consulting, menopause consulting, operative obstetrics, high-risk pregnancy, normal deliveries, antenatal, intra-parum, postnatal... more

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. She also holds a certificate in lactation counselling from iNational Health... more