Is It Okay To Have Sex During Pregnancy?

Sex during pregnancy is often the absolute last thing on some women’s minds, especially when they are dealing with nausea, vomiting and constant fatigue. Other women, however, may crave sex during this special time. Similarly, men seem to fall into two groups regarding sex during pregnancy. Some find nothing sexier than a pregnant woman, but others are too afraid of hurting the baby or their partner to even attempt it. At Westchester Health, we’ve witnessed all of these emotions in our patients over the years and thought we’d offer some helpful advice on the subject.

Is sex during pregnancy safe?

For most women with uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies, yes, sex during pregnancy is very safe. Here’s how you can think about it trimester by trimester:

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Dennis McGroary, MD, FACOG

In the 1st trimester: Sex is often not on the agenda for most pregnant women—they’re tired, nauseous and trying to cope with the many changes their bodies are going through.

In the 2nd trimester: By now, they are usually feeling better and there is more genital lubrication, making sex more appealing and satisfying for both partners. Also, most women are still fairly comfortable with their bigger shape during the second trimester because their stomach is not overly rounded yet.

In the 3rd trimester: Sex becomes more physically difficult, especially during the final weeks of pregnancy as a woman’s stomach grows and fatigue returns, but with some modifications and a willingness to accommodate the bulging belly of a mom-to-be, it can certainly be enjoyed. is It’s an old wives’ tale that having sex close to your due date during the third trimester will bring on labor, but having an orgasm does cause the release of prostaglandins, which can theoretically cause contractions.

The bottom line when it comes to sex during pregnancy? Have fun, listen to your body and be open with your partner.

What about when dads-to-be are nervous that sex will hurt the baby?

In these cases, we tell them that their baby is well protected and will not be harmed by sex. It is an egg surrounded by a pillow and then another pillow and there is no way they can hurt the fetus.

Sexual positions to consider during pregnancy

As a woman’s belly grows bigger and bigger, the traditional man-on-top position becomes more uncomfortable for pregnant women. Other, more comfortable sexual positions during pregnancy may include intercourse from behind or side-to-side (spooning).

Also, at a certain point a pregnant woman should not be flat on her back because the growing uterus can compress major blood vessels, potentially causing pelvic pressure and pain. This typically occurs during the third trimester. Lying flat on her back can also cause a woman to develop supine hypotensive syndrome, which results in a change in heart rate and blood pressure that can lead to dizziness and other symptoms.

One sexual act to avoid during pregnancy is blowing air into the vagina during oral sex. This can cause an air embolus to develop, which can travel to the lung and have potentially fatal consequences.

5 reasons to avoid sex during pregnancy

  1. Sex during pregnancy may not be safe for women with a history of repeated miscarriages, preterm labor, bleeding or an incompetent cervix (when the cervix effaces and dilates without contractions in the 2nd or early 3rd trimester due to the baby’s weight putting increasing pressure on it).
  2. Women with placenta previa (a condition where the placenta is covering the cervix) are at risk of hemorrhaging if they have sex during pregnancy.
  3. Women with premature rupture of membranes (PROM), which occurs when the sac containing the developing baby and the amniotic fluid bursts or develops a hole before labor, should also avoid sex during pregnancy.
  4. If a woman has bleeding or foul-smelling discharge after sex during pregnancy. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away. Discharge may be a sign of an infection that can travel upward to the uterus, and bleeding may be a sign of any number of problems.
  5. If a woman’s partner has an STD, she should use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, to protect herself and her unborn baby.

Want to know more about sex during pregnancy? Come see us.

If you’d like more information on whether it’s safe for you and your partner to have sex during your pregnancy, please make an appointment with Westchester Health to see one of our OB/GYNs. We will evaluate your health history and current condition and from there, make a recommendation. Our #1 goal is for you to have a safe, uneventful pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.

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By Dennis McGroary, MD, FACOG, Department of OB/GYN, Westchester Health

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