If you're pregnant or even planning a pregnancy, you've probably found lots of
information about sex before pregnancy (that is, having sex in order to conceive)
and sex after childbirth (general consensus: expect a less-active sex life when there's
a newborn in the house).
But there's less talk about the topic of sex during pregnancy, perhaps
because of cultural tendencies to not associate expectant mothers with sexuality.
Like many parents-to-be, you may have questions about the safety of sex and what's
normal for most couples.
Well, what's normal can vary widely, but you can count on the fact that there will
be changes in your sex life. Open communication will be the key to a satisfying and
safe sexual relationship during pregnancy.
Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?
Sex is considered safe during all stages of a normal pregnancy.
So what's a "normal pregnancy"? It's one that's considered low-risk for complications
such as miscarriage or pre-term labor. Talk to your doctor, nurse-midwife,
or other pregnancy health care provider if you're uncertain about whether you fall
into this category.
Of course, just because sex is safe during pregnancy doesn't mean you'll necessarily
want to have it! Many expectant mothers find that their desire for sex changes during
certain stages in the pregnancy. Also, many women find that sex becomes uncomfortable
as their bodies get larger.
You and your partner should keep the lines of communication open regarding your
sexual relationship. Talk about other ways to satisfy your need for intimacy, such
as kissing, caressing, and holding each other. You also may need to experiment with
other positions for sex to find those that are the most comfortable.
Many women find that they lose their desire and motivation for sex late in the
pregnancy — not only because of their size but also because they're preoccupied
with the coming delivery and the excitement of becoming a new parent.
When It's Not Safe
Some sexual behaviors that aren't safe for any pregnant
If you have oral sex, your partner should not blow air into your
vagina. Blowing air can cause an air embolism (a blockage of a blood vessel by an
air bubble), which can be potentially fatal for mother and child.
These are some of the most frequently asked questions about sex during pregnancy.
Can sex harm my baby?
No. Your baby is fully protected by the amniotic sac (a thin-walled bag that holds
the fetus and surrounding fluid) and the strong muscles of the uterus. There's also
a thick mucus plug that seals the cervix and helps guard against infection. The penis
does not come into contact with the fetus during sex.
Can intercourse or orgasm cause miscarriage or contractions?
In cases of normal, low-risk pregnancies, the answer is no. The contractions that
you may feel during and just after orgasm are entirely different from the contractions
associated with labor. However, you should check with your health care provider to
make sure that your pregnancy falls into the low-risk category.
Health care providers also recommend that all women stop having sex during the
final weeks of pregnancy, just as a safety precaution, because semen contains a chemical
that may actually stimulate contractions. Check with your health care provider to
see what he or she thinks is best.
Is it normal for my sex drive to increase or decrease during pregnancy?
Actually, both of these possibilities are normal (and so is everything in between).
Many pregnant women find that symptoms such as fatigue (being very tired), nausea,
breast tenderness, and the increased need to pee make sex less enjoyable, especially
during the first trimester. Generally, these symptoms ease up during the second trimester,
and some women find that their desire for sex increases. Also, some women find that
freedom from worries about birth control and a renewed closeness with their partner
make sex more fulfilling. Desire generally lowers again during the third trimester
as the uterus grows even larger and the reality of what's about to happen sets in.
Your partner's desire for sex is likely to increase or decrease as well. Some feel
even closer to their pregnant partner and enjoy the changes in their bodies. Others
may have decreased desire because of anxiety about the burdens of parenthood, or because
of concerns about the health of both the mother and the unborn child.
Your partner may have trouble reconciling your identity as a sexual partner with
your new (and increasingly visible) identity as an expectant mother. Again, remember
that communication with your partner can be a great help in dealing with these issues.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider if you're unsure whether sex is safe for you. Also,
call if you notice any unusual symptoms after intercourse, such as pain, bleeding,
or discharge, or if you experience contractions that seem to continue after sex.
Remember, "normal" is a relative term when it comes to sex during pregnancy. You
and your partner need to discuss what feels right for both of you.