Where Does Sperm Go During Pregnancy? Is It Safe?

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Vaginal sex is considered safe during pregnancy unless suggested otherwise by your gynecologist. A doubt may arise as to what happens to the semen or sperm during pregnancy. You may also have concerns regarding its effect on the growing fetus. Unprotected sex and semen have no adverse effects in non-complicated pregnancies.

This post talks about where does sperm go during pregnancy and whether it affects you or your baby.

Where Does The Sperm Go If You Are Already Pregnant? 

Sperms deposited in the vagina will be denied entry by the mucus plug

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Your baby is floating inside an amniotic sac protected by the amniotic fluid, and the cervix is covered with a mucus plug. Semen with sperms deposited in the vagina will be denied entry by the mucus plug and eventually come out of the body via the vaginal opening. The mucus plug is intended to keep bacteria or other potential sources of infection away from the uterus, and the same applies to semen. (1).

Can Sperm Reach The Baby Or Cause A Second Pregnancy?

The hormone levels are not conducive to implantation even if sperms reach ovum

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The penis cannot penetrate far enough to reach the fetus, so there’s no way for the sperm to reach the fetus (2). The conception of a second child during pregnancy is known as superfetation. It may happen in some mammals but is an extremely rare phenomenon in humans, with less than ten cases reported in medical literature up to 2008 (3).

When you are pregnant, the hormonal levels change to support the pregnancy and not ovulation. Therefore, the ovum is not released, and the mucus plug already prevents the entry of sperm. Additionally, the hormone levels are not conducive to implantation if the sperms find their way to an ovum by chance (4).

Is Sperm Safe For Pregnancy? 

Unprotected sex and sperm are considered safe in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. However, you may need to consult your doctor if there are any conditions or risks associated with your pregnancy or if you have pain or bleeding during sexual activity.

Unprotected intercourse and exposure to sperm from an infected partner may increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). During pregnancy, you are more prone to infections, and some of them may be dangerous for both mother and the growing fetus. It may eventually increase the risk of premature birth or spontaneous abortion (miscarriage).

The risks decrease if (5):

  • Your partner is monogamous (having one sexual partner) and has been tested negative for STIs.
  • You use protection, such as condoms, every time you have penetrative sex.

    The risk of miscarriage decreases if you use condoms during sex

    Image: Shutterstock

Is Semen Beneficial To Pregnancy?

Experts have reported some potential benefits of sexual activity and sperm during pregnancy. Semen may benefit pregnancy in the following ways.

  • Semen contains many protective and immune-tolerance-inducing substances that modulate the maternal immune system. Extensive paternal sperm exposure (exposure to sperm of one particular person) for more than 12 months pre-pregnancy may decrease the risk of preeclampsia (sudden high blood pressure and protein in urine) (6) (7).
  • Human semen contains prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that may ripen the cervix and help in inducing labor. Additionally, sperm and sexual intercourse may produce a physical stimulation in the lower uterus and cause the release of the hormone oxytocin, a major hormone involved in labor, due to orgasm. So, sometimes, penetrative sex is suggested as a method of starting labor in uncomplicated pregnancies, though more extensive research is required in this area (8).
  • Orgasms release endorphins, which boost your mood and happiness while helping you bond with your partner emotionally (9).

Pregnancy may change the way you perceive sexual activity. Fear and anxiety about harming the fetus, morning sickness (nausea and vomiting), altered sex drive, and general fatigue may make you averse to sex during pregnancy. You may be advised against it if you have a history of preterm labor, a low-lying placenta (placenta previa), bleeding, infection, multiple pregnancies, leaking amniotic fluid. Do not hesitate to discuss your doubts with your healthcare provider. Otherwise, vaginal sex and sperm are considered safe during pregnancy. As your baby grows, adopt comfortable positions to effectively bond with your partner.

Infographic: Superfetation vs Superfecundation

What are superfetation and superfecundation? Our infographic will help you understand these pregnancy phenomena with ease. Take a print and pin this infographic if you feel you might want to share it with a friend with similar questions.

Sperm during pregnancy [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Sperm entering the vagina during pregnancy is usually discarded from the vaginal opening.
  • The mucus plug, which covers the amniotic sac, prevents the entry of sperm into the uterus.
  • The immune-tolerance-inducing substances in sperm may benefit a mother’s immune system.
  • Consult your doctor to learn if unprotected sex is safe during pregnancy.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Mucus Plug.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/labor-and-birth/mucus-plug/
  2. Sex during pregnancy: questions and concerns.
    https://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/relationships-sex/sex-during-pregnancy-questions-and-concerns
  3. O. Pape et al.; Superfetation: Case report and review of the literature.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0368231508002238?via%3Dihub
  4. Reshef Tal and Hugh S. Taylor Endocrinology of Pregnancy.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278962/
  5. STDs during Pregnancy – CDC Fact Sheet.
    https://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/stdfact-pregnancy.htm
  6. Daniele Di Mascio et al.; Type of paternal sperm exposure before pregnancy and the risk of preeclampsia: A systematic review.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32544753/
  7. Louise C. Kennyand Douglas B. Kell Immunological Tolerance Pregnancy and Preeclampsia: The Roles of Semen Microbes and the Father.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758600/
  8. Sexual intercourse for cervical ripening and induction of labour.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7017007/
  9. Sex during pregnancy.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/sex-and-pregnancy/
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Dr. Joyani Das

Dr. Joyani Das did her post-graduation from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and PhD in Pharmacology. Previously, she worked as an associate professor, faculty of Pharmacology, for two years. With her research background in preclinical studies and a zeal for scientific writing, she joined MomJunction as a health writer. Her research work was published in international journals and publications, such...
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Dr. Shashwat Jani

(MS)
Dr. Shashwat Jani is a consultant obstetrician & gynecologist in Smt. N.H.L. Municipal Medical College, Ahmedabad. His field of interests are High Risk Pregnancy, Infertility and Endoscopy. He has written 12 chapters in reference books of Ob/Gyn and published 18 articles in Index journals. Dr. Jani has been invited as faculty in more than 200 national and international conferences. He...
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