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FAQ: Is it OK to Have Sex While Pregnant? Here’s Everything You Need to Know!

March 15, 2018
4 min read

Sex is a natural part of a loving relationship, and it can be perfectly safe during pregnancy for most women. You might notice some changes, though. For example, your sex drive might be completely different, and you might need to find comfortable sex positions to suit your growing belly. You might also have lots of questions about whether sex is safe during pregnancy, whether bleeding after sex when you’re pregnant is normal, and how soon after giving birth it’s OK to have sex again. Here, we answer some of your pregnancy sex questions. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or need more information.

What's in this article:

Can I Have Sex While Pregnant and Is It Safe? Is It Normal for My Sex Drive to Be Different? Are There Any Circumstances When Sex Should Be Avoided? Are There Any Symptoms to Call the Doctor About? Can Sex or Orgasms Trigger Premature Labor? Do We Need to Use a Condom if I’m Pregnant? What Sex Positions Are More Comfortable During Pregnancy? One Question Your Partner Might Have: How Might “Pregnancy Sex” Be Different? How Soon After I Give Birth Is It OK to Have Sex Again? How Can Sex After Giving Birth Be Different?

Can I Have Sex While Pregnant and Is It Safe?

If you’re healthy and having a normal pregnancy, having sex while pregnant is generally safe, and it can still be enjoyable. No matter what, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor first, especially if you have pregnancy complications, or if you’ve had them in a past pregnancy, then sex may not be safe.

Some moms-to-be may also hesitate to have intercourse because they feel as if there’s a third person in the bed or that their baby is “watching.” Relax! While you’re having fun, those rocking motions have probably left your baby snoozing.

Having intercourse or orgasms won’t harm your baby; the amniotic fluid and the muscles of the uterus protect her. Also, the mucus plug, which blocks the opening of the cervix, helps keep your baby safe from infection.

Is It Normal for My Sex Drive to Be Different?

Is sex the last thing on your mind? Or has your sex drive gone into overdrive? Both scenarios are normal during pregnancy, and you might even find that your sex drive fluctuates. Your desire for sex can be affected by many things, including rising and falling hormone levels, the physical changes to your body, and your emotions. Here is how your desire for sex may vary in each trimester:

  • First trimester. Changes to your body as well as pregnancy hormones may make you feel a little sexier early on during pregnancy. Conversely, your sex drive may be lower due to morning sickness, feeling tired, having tender or sore breasts, and having an increased urge to pee.
  • Second trimester. Some of the annoying pregnancy symptoms of the first trimester may subside by this trimester; plus, your belly isn’t so big yet that certain sex positions become uncomfortable. This can be why you might have a higher sex drive around this time. In fact, increased blood flow to your pelvic region and breasts may enhance your sexual pleasure. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and at any point during pregnancy, how you’re feeling emotionally and physically may impact your sex drive.
  • Third trimester. As your belly grows, you might find that some sex positions aren’t comfortable, and you might also have a reduced sex drive as you prepare for giving birth. Other factors like weight gain and back pain might also dampen your mood for sex. It’s perfectly OK to have a decreased sex drive. Keep in mind that you can find other ways to bond with your partner, such as by talking about your feelings, cuddling, and kissing.

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Are There Any Circumstances When Sex Should Be Avoided?

Although your doctor will be able to answer this question for you in the most accurate way, it may be best to avoid sex if

  • you had a premature baby in an earlier pregnancy, or you have experienced signs of preterm labor in this pregnancy
  • you have what’s called an incompetent cervix, which is when the cervix opens too early during pregnancy, increasing the risk of preterm labor
  • you have placenta previa, which is when the placenta covers all or part of the cervix
  • your water has broken - after .this has happened nothing should enter the vagina
  • you’ve experienced bleeding after sex while pregnant (Consult your doctor about anything more than a few drops of blood.)
  • your partner has a sexually transmitted infection (Some experts recommend avoiding sex even with the use of a condom, but it’s best to consult your doctor about your specific situation.)
  • you’re pregnant with multiples.

Are There Any Symptoms to Call the Doctor About?

If you notice heavy bleeding after sex when pregnant, or if you experience leaking amniotic fluid, pain, or painful cramps, contact your doctor right away or go to the emergency room. During orgasm your uterus contracting may feel mildly uncomfortable, but these mild contractions are not dangerous and are not a sign of labor. It can also be normal to have light cramping or light spotting (a few droplets of blood) after sex while pregnant. If you experience any of these symptoms, even mildly, it is a good idea to consult your doctor to be sure it isn’t anything more serious.

Can Sex or Orgasms Trigger Premature Labor?

Uterine contractions can be caused by orgasms and natural substances in semen, but sex during pregnancy isn’t typically associated with an increased risk of preterm labor. However, if you’re already at an increased risk of preterm labor, ask your doctor about whether having sex while pregnant is right for you.

Some people think that sex helps induce labor. However, experts say sex isn’t likely to trigger labor - even if you’re near your due date.

Do We Need to Use a Condom if I’m Pregnant?

Although you can’t get pregnant again, it is still important to use condoms to help prevent you from getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which you can get if your partner is infected. These infections can cause problems for your baby during pregnancy and birth. Speak to your doctor if you’re unsure of the risks and about what’s best for your situation.

What Sex Positions Are More Comfortable During Pregnancy?

Finding enjoyable sex positions while you’re pregnant is important. If a position isn’t working for you both, try something different. What works earlier in pregnancy may not work when your belly is much bigger by the third trimester. If you’re in any doubt about what’s safe, contact your healthcare provider. Note that hormonal changes can make your vagina feel dry, and that using a water-based lubricant may help sex be more comfortable.

One Question Your Partner Might Have: How Might “Pregnancy Sex” Be Different?

While you’re going through the many physical, hormonal, and emotional changes of being pregnant, which can lead to fluctuations in your sex drive, your partner may also be going through lots of changes, and may be wondering how “pregnancy sex” might be different, Try and keep the communication lines open, and be aware that your pregnancy may also change sex for your partner, whose own feelings and level of desire may be changing during this time.

Be sure your partner knows that you are open to talking about your sex life, and that reaching out to your healthcare provider for advice can be helpful for both of you. Finally, remember that intimacy can be maintained in other ways, too, such as through kissing, cuddling, or giving each other a sensual massage.

How Soon After I Give Birth Is It OK to Have Sex Again?

Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section, your body needs time to recover. In general, there is no definitive “no sex” period, although some experts recommend waiting at least four to six weeks after giving birth. In the case of a vaginal birth, this allows the cervix to close and any tears or episiotomy wounds to heal. In the case of a cesarean section, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider about when sex is safe again after the surgery. If in doubt, consult your doctor, or simply wait until your first postpartum checkup (usually six weeks after your baby’s birth).

Once you get the all clear from your doctor, it is important you wait until both you and your partner feel comfortable. If either you or your partner isn’t ready, it may help to talk to your partner and to find other ways to be intimate.

How Can Sex After Giving Birth Be Different?

When you start having sex again, you may find that hormonal changes have made your vagina drier than usual, and it might help to use a water-based lubricant. To strengthen your vaginal muscles after giving birth, you can also choose to practice Kegel exercises. And, you may find that your sex drive is lower. This can result from feeling tired, stressed, depressed, or worried that sex will be painful. It’s normal to experience a range of emotions after having a baby, but if you’re finding that it’s getting in the way of your normal sex life, contact your healthcare provider for advice. Eating healthily and exercising may also help your sex drive return.

Most couples go back to having an active sex life in the year after their baby is born. It’s important to know that ovulation will start, and you’ll be able to conceive even before your menstrual periods return. Unless you’re planning to have another baby right away, consider speaking to your doctor about which birth control methods are suitable for your situation.

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