Pregnancy and Sex


 

Is it safe to have sex while I am pregnant?

Yes, it is safe for most women to have vaginal, oral, manual (using your hands), and anal sex throughout pregnancy. Unless your health care provider has told you not to have sex for a medical reason, you can safely enjoy sex in all 3 trimesters of pregnancy. The baby is protected during sex by your cervix (opening to your uterus), the amniotic sac (bag of waters), and the amniotic fluid inside your uterus (womb).

When should sex be avoided?

You should not have sex if you have:

  • Leaking amniotic fluid
  • Preterm labor
  • Vaginal bleeding heavier than spotting
  • Placenta previa (placenta that covers all or part of your cervical opening)


You should avoid touching herpes lesions (sores) on your partner’s mouth or genitals. If you or your partner have new partners while you are pregnant, you need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections by using a condom or dental dam. If you have other health concerns about the safety of sex in your pregnancy, talk with your health care provider.

Will my desire for sex change in pregnancy?

Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, both physically and emotionally. It is common for your sexual desires to be different now that you are pregnant. Some women have more interest in sex during pregnancy, and others have less interest.

Here are some specific changes during pregnancy that can affect how you feel about sex:

  • Many women experience fatigue, nausea, and/or vomiting, which can lead to less desire to have sex.
  • You have more blood flow to your pelvis. This can cause you to be more sensitive to sexual touch, which can make sex more enjoyable for you. Being more sensitive can also cause you to feel either more interested or more uncomfortable during sex.
  • Your breasts become larger and more sensitive. It may be uncomfortable to have them touched during sex.
  • As your pregnancy continues, your uterus (womb) and abdomen (belly) become larger, which may make it difficult to find a comfortable position during sex. Your changing body may affect you or your partner’s desire to have sex.


How can I have vaginal sex comfortably while I am pregnant?

There are several ways to make vaginal sex (penis, fingers, or vibrator into the vagina) more comfortable during pregnancy:

  • Make sure your vagina is well lubricated: You may need to use a water-based lubricant.
  • Try different positions: Being on your back with your partner on top of you (missionary position) may not be the most comfortable position for you, especially as your uterus gets bigger. You may find it more comfortable to be on top of your partner, lying on your side, standing, or on your hands and knees. If you are on top of your partner, you can face forward or backward.
  • Talk with your partner: Let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t. If vaginal sex is painful for you, try changing positions and/or using more lubricant.


What about oral sex, anal sex, and using vibrators during pregnancy?

Oral sex is safe in pregnancy as long as you and your partner don’t have any herpes lesions. Your partner should not blow air into your vagina. Anal sex is also safe during pregnancy. You should be careful not to spread bacteria from the rectum to the vagina. If you’re going to have vaginal sex after anal sex, wash the body part or vibrator that was in your anus before putting it into your vagina. If you have hemorrhoids, you may not want to have anal sex, as it may cause pain or bleeding. You can use a vibrator while you are pregnant. Make sure the vibrator is clean to prevent infection.

Will sex cause me to go into labor?

Sex during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, may cause you to have some cramps or contractions right after sex and during orgasm. Your orgasm releases a hormone called oxytocin, which can cause your uterus to contract. Male semen contains prostaglandins, which are other hormones that also may cause contractions. Contractions from sex will typically go away over 1 to 2 hours. If they continue or become stronger, contact your health care provider. You may have a small amount of vaginal bleeding or spotting after vaginal sex. This is because there are many small blood vessels in your cervix that can leak when they are touched. Mild spotting for 24 to 48 hours is normal. If your bleeding is heavy, like a period, or continues past 48 hours, contact your health care provider.

What if I don’t want to have sex while I am pregnant?

It is important to talk to your partner. Tell your partner how you feel about sex during pregnancy. Encourage your partner to talk with you about how both of you feel about sex in pregnancy. If sex is not something that is desired or possible, there are many other ways to be intimate including massage, touching and stimulating each other nonsexually, cuddling, or simply spending quality time together. These are ways to be close to your partner without having sex.

How soon after my baby is born can I have sex?

Before you start having vaginal sex again, your postpartum bleeding should have stopped and any tears should be healed. Every woman is different. Some women may feel ready at 4 weeks, while other women may need 10 weeks. Talk openly with your partner, and use other ways to be intimate with each other. When you have sex again, take it slow and use plenty of lubrication. You may want to put a finger into your vagina first before larger objects such as a penis or vibrator. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about birth control if you want to prevent pregnancy.