Sex is a natural part of life, and it can provide lots of pleasure and foster greater intimacy with your partner. But if you’re pregnant, you may find yourself wondering if having sex is a good idea, or if there are any risks associated with sex during pregnancy. After all, it’s normal to focus on keeping your baby safe during this time, and you may feel nervous about doing anything that could cause harm.
Can you have sex while pregnant? Read this article to find the answer to this question and more.
Can you have sex while pregnant?
Fortunately, in most cases it’s perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy. As the Mayo Clinic reminds us, the developing baby is protected by the amniotic sac inside your uterus. The amniotic sac is a membrane inside the uterus that forms a bag which is filled with amniotic fluid, which acts as a shock absorber and protects the baby from external movements. The amniotic sac also keeps the baby safe from infections.
Sex during each pregnancy trimester
Having sex while pregnant is different for every woman, and it can even feel different throughout each trimester of pregnancy. What feels comfortable during your first trimester can be uncomfortable during your third trimester, and vice versa. Additionally, your libido can also vary greatly during the different stages of pregnancy.
Many women report low libido during their first trimester. This doesn’t come as a surprise, since uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and fatigue are usually more intense during early pregnancy. Hormonal changes can also lead to other changes, such as vaginal dryness, headaches, and sore breasts.
The risk of miscarriage is highest during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy; however, this isn’t related to sex. Unless your healthcare provider has specifically told you to avoid sex, you can have intercourse during the first trimester as long as you feel comfortable.
The second trimester can be a great time for sex: early pregnancy symptoms tend to subside during this trimester, but your baby isn’t big enough yet to make you uncomfortable during sex.
Some women experience mild cramping after having sex while pregnant. Don’t worry — according to the organization Kids Health, these cramps aren’t the same as contractions, and they don’t mean that something is amiss. Postcoital cramps happen as a result of increased blood flow to your pelvic area, in addition to normal uterine contractions after having an orgasm. These mild cramps can happen during or immediately after sex, and they should subside on their own within 30 minutes. If you experience postcoital cramps, try to relax and take deep breaths. You can also take a warm bath or ask your partner for a low back massage to help relieve the cramping.
Having sex can be more uncomfortable now that you’re approaching your due date and your baby has gotten much bigger. It’s important to find a position in which you feel comfortable to have sex during this trimester.
Traditional man-on-top positions can quickly become uncomfortable, since your pregnant belly could get in the way. Additionally, laying flat on your back during late pregnancy can cause your uterus to compress major abdominal blood vessels, which can lead to low blood pressure, dizziness, pelvic pressure, and pain. Instead, other positions such as spooning may be more comfortable during the third trimester.
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When to avoid sex while pregnant
There are certain circumstances in which you should avoid sex during pregnancy. In these cases, it’s a good idea to seek advice from your OB-GYN to understand what’s safe and what’s not. You should also call your doctor if you experience bleeding, unusual discharge, or contractions at any point during your pregnancy.
Although sex can’t cause a miscarriage by itself, you should avoid having intercourse if you’re at risk of preterm labor — especially if your doctor has prescribed rest. Other situations in which sex during pregnancy may not be safe include:
- A history of repeated pregnancy loss
- Incompetent cervix
- Placenta previa
- Bleeding during pregnancy
- Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
Unless there are explicit contraindications, most women can have sex safely throughout their entire pregnancy. However, you should always follow your doctor’s instructions and recommendations in order to keep yourself and your baby safe.
Keep in mind that you still need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during pregnancy, especially if you’re not in a mutually monogamous relationship, according to the NHS.
If you’re going to have sex with a new partner who hasn’t been tested for STDs recently, it’s important to use condoms during sex — even if you’re already pregnant. STDs during pregnancy can lead to complications for you and your baby. You can learn more about STD testing and other sexual health topics at STDWatch.com.
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Sex during pregnancy: What’s OK, what’s not - mayoclinic.org
Sex During Pregnancy - kidshealth.org
Sex in pregnancy - nhs.uk