Is It Safe To Have Sex During Pregnancy?

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, one of the most frequent questions we get asked by expecting couples is, “Will having sex during pregnancy hurt the baby?” Our answer (unless there’s a problem) is almost always no. Pregnant sex is safe sex.

Can sex during pregnancy harm the baby?

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

For most women with low-risk pregnancies with no complications, sex during pregnancy is very safe and will not harm the developing fetus. The amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus protect the unborn baby, and the thick mucus plug that seals the cervix helps guard against infection. During intercourse, the penis does not go beyond the vagina, so it won’t reach the baby.

One aspect of sex during pregnancy is that you may have to experiment to find positions that are comfortable for you and your partner, which becomes more of a challenge as your belly grows. Our main piece of advice to expecting couples: enjoy your pregnancy, enjoy sex, and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Sex trimester by trimester

1st trimester: 
Sex in the early stages of pregnancy is usually not on the agenda for most women because that’s also when morning sickness is typically at its worst. They’re tired, nauseous and trying to cope with the many changes their bodies are going through.

2nd trimester: 
By this stage, morning sickness for most women has passed (or at least decreased) and they’re feeling much better. There is more genital lubrication, making sex more appealing and satisfying for both partners. In addition, most women are still fairly comfortable with their bigger shape because their stomach has not become heavy and huge yet.

3rd trimester:
At this point (the home stretch), sex becomes more physically difficult, especially during the final weeks of pregnancy.  A woman’s belly is now really, really large, she is usually tired, and she probably just wants the whole ordeal to be over with. But that doesn’t mean sex is out of the question.

Can having sex trigger labor?

No, not if you are having a normal, low-risk pregnancy. Sexual stimulation or orgasm cannot start labor or cause a miscarriage. While orgasm may cause mild uterine contractions (as can nipple stimulation), those contractions are generally temporary and harmless.

 When NOT to have sex while pregnant

You should avoid sex during pregnancy if you have:

  1. A history of repeated miscarriages, preterm labor or premature birth.
  2. Placenta previa (the placenta is covering the cervix) which puts you at risk of hemorrhaging if you have sex during pregnancy.
  3. Premature rupture of membranes which occurs when the sac containing the developing baby and the amniotic fluid bursts or develops a hole before labor. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away.
  4. Vaginal bleeding or foul-smelling discharge after sex. 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. A partner with an STD. In this circumstance, you must use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, to protect yourself and your unborn baby.
  6. Leaking amniotic fluid. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor right away.
  7. Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence).

Expecting a baby? Here’s what you need to know

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we’ve helped lots and lots of expecting couples have safe pregnancies and deliver healthy babies, and we’re ready to help you with yours. For helpful tips and advice on everything from exercise guidelines to proper nutrition, please refer to the Expecting a Baby page on our website.

Some helpful articles on the subject:

Concerned about sex while pregnant? Come see us.

If you’d like more information on whether it’s okay for you and your partner to have sex during pregnancy, or if you’re worried about the safety of the baby, please make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians or a Westchester Health OB/GYN. Our #1 goal is for you to have a safe pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

Make an appt

By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, Lead Pediatric Physician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

by WHA-Admin