Is sex safe during pregnancy?

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.  

  • 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. 

When is sex not safe during pregnancy?

Sex may not be safe during pregnancy if you have or have had certain pregnancy complications. If you have any of these complications, talk to your provider to see if it’s OK for you to have sex:

How can you make sex safe during pregnancy?

Sex doesn’t hurt your baby during pregnancy. The muscles of the uterus and the amniotic fluid help protect your baby. The mucous plug help keeps your baby safe from infection. If your partner is male, his penis doesn’t make contact with your baby during sex.

Talk to your provider about what sexual activity may be off-limits.   

Even though sex is safe for most women during pregnancy and doesn’t hurt your baby, you do want to protect your baby from certain infections you can get during sex:

  • Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (also called STIs, sexually transmitted diseases or STDs). If you have vaginal, anal or oral sex sex, have sex with only one person who doesn’t have other sex partners. Don’t have sex with a partner with an STI.  If you have a new partner, use a condom.
  • If you have oral sex, be sure your partner does NOT blow air into your vagina. Blowing air into the vagina can cause an air embolism (an air bubble that blocks a blood vessel). This can cause serious problems for you and your baby.
  • Ask your provider if it’s OK to have anal sex. Anal sex may be unsafe during pregnancy because the anus is full of bacteria. If you have vaginal sex after anal sex, you may be more likely to get an infection with bacteria in your vagina.

What are signs of problems during or after sex?

If you have pain during sex, tell your provider. If you have heavy bleeding like normal menstrual period bleeding, leaking of amniotic fluid or painful cramps that don’t go away after sex, call your provider or go to the emergency room.  

It’s normal to have some cramps or spotting after sex when you’re pregnant. Having an orgasm can cause cramps.

How can pregnancy affect your sex life?

Your interest in sex and desire for sex can change throughout pregnancy because of rising and falling hormone levels and other changes in your body.  Whatever your mood is, let your partner know what feels comfortable or uncomfortable.  Your partner’s desire for sex may increase or decrease too. Talking to your partner openly about these issues can help.  

Here are some common sex drive changes you may feel during pregnancy:

  • First trimester. Changing hormone levels early in pregnancy and changes in your body’s shape may make you feel sexy. But they may lead to discomforts that make you less interested in sex, like feeling tired or nausea having sore breasts and needing to go to the bathroom often.
  • Second trimester.  Discomforts from the first trimester may have gone away or you may be able to manage them better in the second trimester. Your belly is growing but it’s still small enough to have sex comfortably. In fact, you may want to have sex more often than you did in the past!  Women gain about 3 pounds of blood during pregnancy, and most of that blood flows below your waist. You may find that extra blood flow helps you have an orgasm ¬more easily.
  • Third trimester. If you and your partner both desire it, it’s OK to have sex until the birth of your baby unless your provider has told you otherwise.  Toward the end of pregnancy, you may feel less interested or less comfortable having sex. You may be less interested in sex because you’re more focused giving birth and having a new baby. It’s OK to have these feelings!

Which sex positions are best during pregnancy?

Positions that work before pregnancy and early in pregnancy may be uncomfortable or even unsafe during later stages of pregnancy. For example, lying flat on your back after the fourth month of pregnancy puts pressure on major blood vessels because of the weight of your 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 trimester because it lowers the pressure placed on your belly. As your belly gets bigger, you may find this position uncomfortable.

What are other ways you can be close with your partner?

You don’t have to have sex to be loving with your partner. You can be intimate by:

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

To stay connected with your partner, talk 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. If you’re worried about how pregnancy is affecting your relationship with your partner, tell your provider.

How soon can you have sex after giving birth?

It’s best to wait until after your postpartum checkup (about 6 weeks after giving birth) to have sex again. Use birth control when you feel ready to start having sex again. Talk to your provider about when it’s safe to start birth control and what kind is safe to use if you're breastfeeding.   

Most couples go back to having an active sex life sometime during the first year of their baby’s life.   If you’re still worried, feel pain or discomfort when resuming sex or feeling pressure about having sex, tell your provider.

 

 

 

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