April 29, 2020

Sex During Pregnancy: Your Questions Answered

Safety, discomfort talk + more

Pregnant woman and man cuddling in bed

Let’s talk about sex — and your growing baby bump. Whether you’re newly pregnant or bursting at the seams, you may have burning questions, like is it OK to do the deed? Will sex harm your baby? Is it normal to be in the mood a lot less often?

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Pull up a chair. Ob/Gyn Oluwatosin Goje, MD, answers the most common sex-during-pregnancy questions she gets asked.

Q. Is it safe to have sex while pregnant?

A. Absolutely, enjoy vaginal or oral sex as frequently as you want, throughout your pregnancy. The only exceptions are if you have one of these conditions:

  • Cervical changes: Normally, the cervix creates a barrier between the vagina and uterus. Changes such as early dilation (opening) could raise your risk for premature labor if you have sex.
  • History of premature labor or miscarriage: If you have a history of premature delivery or miscarriage, your doctor may ask you to refrain from intercourse. Semen contains prostaglandins, and during orgasm, your brain releases oxytocin. Both of these hormones play a role in stimulating contractions.
  • Leaking: If you feel a drip, drip, drip from your vagina, it warrants a call to your doctor. It may be a sign that the wall surrounding the sac your baby grows in may have ruptured. Intercourse in this situation could increase your risk of infection.
  • Placenta previa: When the placenta covers the cervix, sexual activity (vaginal-penile) may result in disruption of the placenta and cause bleeding.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STD): If a doctor diagnoses you or your partner with a sexually transmitted infection, refrain from unprotected sexual intercourse until you’ve been treated and retested. An untreated STD can harm your baby.
  • Undiagnosed vaginal bleeding: Until your provider determines the reason for vaginal bleeding, you should refrain from sexual intercourse.

Q. Will sex hurt my baby or scar them for life?

A. No, sex will not hurt your baby. It’s completely safe — even in the final days — as long as you don’t have one of the above conditions.

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Q. Not gonna lie, it hurts a little. Should it?

A. Sex should still be enjoyable during pregnancy. It may be even more enjoyable for some. Some women who experience vaginal dryness when they aren’t pregnant will have more lubrication during pregnancy.

If you find you’re less comfortable as your pregnancy progresses, it may be the position you choose. If you’re on your back for sex, then gravity is pulling all that baby weight down on your spine. Instead, lube up and try these sex positions during pregnancy:

  • Side-by-side or spooning.
  • Doggy style (sex from behind).
  • Woman-on-top.
  • Standing.

Q. Are there advantages to pregnant sex? (Please tell me it will induce labor.)

A. There are many advantages to pregnancy sex — the main one is continued intimacy with your partner. You might also experience:

  • Increased sensitivity: Sex may be better than ever, thanks to increased blood flow to the vulva (the outer part of the female genitals).
  • Better sleep: Pregnancy and sleep don’t always go together, but post-coital relaxation may make it easier.
  • Labor: There’s no definitive research showing sex can kick-start labor, but anecdotally it may work, so it’s definitely worth a shot.
  • Feel-good hormones: The oxytocin that’s released with orgasm can help you feel less achy and generally calmer.

Q. Help! I bled a little after sex — I’m freaking out, should I be?

A. Bleeding after sex is a common concern. During pregnancy, there is increased blood flow to the cervix and vagina, so friction from sex could cause a little bleeding. Usually, this is nothing to worry about, but it’s always a good idea to check in with your provider.

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Q. I have zero interest in pregnancy sex … is that OK? Am I abnormal?

A. Many factors impact how you feel about sex during pregnancy. Some women don’t enjoy their pregnant bodies — they don’t feel sexy or appealing. Others feel sexier because they have fuller breasts or experience more powerful orgasms. For some women, the surge in hormones makes them want sex more often than usual. Sex is personal, so your experience with pregnancy sex will also be. Learn to communicate your needs with your partner.

Q. Will I still have orgasms when I’m pregnant?

A. There have been studies that say orgasm is less likely as you progress through pregnancy, but this isn’t the case for all women. Orgasm during pregnancy may have more to do with how you feel about your pregnant body or the positions you’re using. My best advice is to embrace your baby bump. Explore new positions until you find what works for you and your partner. With increased blood flow to the vulva, you may experience better-than-ever orgasms.

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