Sex during pregnancy

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Key Points

If your pregnancy is healthy, you can have sex. You and your partner can use positions that are safe and comfortable throughout pregnancy.

Sex doesn’t hurt your baby. The amniotic fluid in your uterus helps protect your baby when you’re having sex.

If you have pregnancy complications now or if you’ve had them in the past, having sex during pregnancy may not be safe.

If after having sex you have heavy bleeding, painful cramps or leaking amniotic fluid, call your provider or go to the emergency room.

It’s OK for you to have changing desires about sex during pregnancy. Talk to your partner about what makes you feel comfortable.

Sex is a healthy part of a loving, romantic relationship. But is it safe to have sex when you’re pregnant? Most of the time, the answer is yes—as long as your pregnancy is a healthy one. But there are times when it’s not a good idea, so it’s important to know the guidelines for safe, healthy sex throughout your pregnancy.

When to say “yes” to sex

Each month your ovaries release an egg about 14 days before the first day of your period. This is called ovulation. After the egg is released, it begins a 5-day journey through one of your fallopian tubes before arriving at your uterus. Not sure when you’re ovulating? Use our helpful Ovulation Calendar to figure it out.

  • If your pregnancy is healthy, it’s ok to have sex.
  • Most sexual positions are safe. Experiment to find what works best as your pregnancy progresses.
  • Your sexual desire may change during pregnancy—and that’s ok. Talk to your partner about your level of comfort.

Q: Will sex during pregnancy hurt my baby?

No. Babies are protected by the muscular walls of the uterus and cushioned by the amniotic fluid inside. The opening of the cervix is also blocked by a mass of mucous (called a mucous plug) that helps shield babies from infection.

 When to say “no” to sex

Sex during pregnancy might not be safe if you have certain pregnancy complications—either now or in the past. If any of the below situations apply to you, talk to your doctor to see if it’s still ok to have sex:

  • You’re expecting twins, triplets or other multiples.
  • You’re at risk for miscarriage, or you’ve had one in the past.
  • You’re at risk for preterm labor (contractions before 37 weeks of pregnancy), or you’ve had a premature baby in the past.
  • You have an incompetent cervix, which can cause preterm labor due to the cervix opening too early during pregnancy.
  • You have placenta previa, when the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. This can cause serious bleeding and complications later in pregnancy.

Q: Is it normal to have light cramps or spotting?

Yes. When you have sex during pregnancy, it’s normal to experience some cramping or light bleeding (spotting). The spotting is usually light enough that it doesn’t cover a panty liner.

Look out for warning signs

Pay attention to troubling side effects that could be a sign of something more serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms during (or after) sex, call your doctor or go to the emergency room:

Pregnancy signs and symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding (like a normal menstrual period)
  • Leaking amniotic fluid
  • Painful cramps
  • Contractions after sex

Guard against infection

Even though sex is mostly safe during pregnancy, there are certain activities you should refrain from to prevent the possibility of infection to yourself or your developing baby.

  • Protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). An STD is an infection you can get from having unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who is infected. STDs can cause problems for your baby during pregnancy and birth. Avoid sex with a partner who may have an STD. If you have a new partner, use a condom.
  • Make sure your partner does NOT blow air into your vagina. Blowing air into the vagina during oral sex can cause an air embolism (an air bubble that blocks a blood vessel). This can cause serious problems for you and your baby.
  • Refrain from anal sex (unless your doctor says it’s ok). The anus is full of bacteria, so anal sex may be unsafe during pregnancy. If you have vaginal sex after anal sex, you’re more likely to transfer bacteria into your vagina.

Q: Why do my orgasms seem more intense?

During pregnancy, women gain about 3 pounds of blood—with most of it flowing below the waist. You may find this extra blood flow causes more intense pleasure and helps you orgasm more easily.

Sex through the trimesters: what to expect

Throughout your pregnancy, rising and falling hormone levels and other changes in your body may affect your interest and desire for sex. Here are some common changes:

First trimester. Early in pregnancy, shifting hormone levels and changes in your body’s shape may make you feel sexy. But these changes may be offset by certain pregnancy discomforts that have the opposite effect—like fatigue, sore breasts, nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and the increased need to pee.

Second trimester. By the second trimester, these early discomforts may go away—or you may learn to manage them better. While your belly is growing, it’s still small enough to have sex comfortably. In fact, you may want to have sex more often than you did before!

Third trimester. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it’s ok to have sex until the birth of your baby—but you may find yourself less interested as your belly gets bigger and certain positions become uncomfortable. You might also be more focused on getting ready for your baby’s impending birth. These feelings are perfectly normal, so talk to your partner about how you feel and what else you can do to remain close.

Sex During Pregnancy

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Choose the best sexual positions

As your pregnancy progresses, positions that worked before may be uncomfortable—or even unsafe—during the later stages of pregnancy. For example, after the fourth month, lying flat on your back (missionary position) puts pressure on major blood vessels due to the weight of the growing baby. Try these positions instead:

Woman on top. This position puts you in control of how fast, slow and comfortable you are during sex. It can also take the pressure off your belly.

Spooning. Lay sideways with your partner lying behind you. Having sex in this position helps lower the amount of pressure placed on your belly.

Woman on hands and knees. This position works best during the first and second trimesters because it lowers the pressure placed on your belly. As your belly gets bigger, you may find this position uncomfortable.

Stay connected with your partner

The most crucial part of intimacy is communication, so talk with your partner about your needs in an open and loving way. Let pleasure and comfort be your guide. If something doesn’t feel right for either of you, change what you’re doing. Remember, sex is only one way to stay connected. Here are some other things to try:

  • Cuddling
  • Kissing
  • Massage
  • Oral sex
  • Mutual masturbation

Sex during pregnancy may come with some challenges, but it can be safe, satisfying and loving up until your baby is born. For advice and tips on sex after pregnancy, read our article on postpartum sex and what you should know. 

Last reviewed February 2023