Let's Talk About Sex in Pregnancy
Did you know, sex is a natural and normal part of pregnancy?! Yep, it sure is! Let's dive into it!
Many men (and women) feel having intercourse with their partners in pregnancy can hurt the baby. Fortunately, this is far from the truth. Trust me, regardless of the size, the movements and penetration during intercourse, it won't harm your baby.
In pregnancy, babies are cushioned and protected by the fluid in the amniotic sac, the muscular walls in the uterus, your abdomen and finally a closed cervix (the entrance to the uterus). For most women, the cervix is closed and sealed with the mucous plug. Your baby is very well protected.
The contractions many women experience when they have an orgasm are not the same as the contractions you are likely to experience in labour. Saying that some healthcare professionals advise women to have penetrative or oral sex in the final weeks of pregnancy, believing that hormones in semen called prostaglandins can stimulate contractions especially when women are overdue or past their estimated date of delivery (EDD).
Prostaglandin is a hormone commonly used to "ripen" the cervix and induce labour but other healthcare professionals believe that semen/labour connection is just a theory and that having sex does not trigger labour.
Having sex for the fun of it during pregnancy also has benefits such as:
It helps you to stay active and keep fit.
It creates a closer bond between you and your partner as pregnancy is a time of many emotional and physical changes.
Increased blood flow to the vagina.
Increases the release of dopamine and oxytocin, the feel-good and lovey-dovey hormones.
It can help to lower your blood pressure, but this doesn't mean it’s a cure for it.
When Not to Have Sex During Pregnancy
Your care provider may advise you not to have sex if you have a high-risk pregnancy or any of the following:
You're at risk for miscarriage (threatened miscarriage) or a history of past miscarriages
You're at risk for preterm labour (contractions before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
You're having vaginal bleeding, discharge, or cramping without a known cause
You have ruptured membranes (waters have broken) and there is a hole in the amniotic sac
Your cervix has opened too early in pregnancy
Your placenta is low in the uterus (placenta previa)
You're expecting twins, triplets, or other "multiples" and are experiencing complications in the pregnancy.
Bear in mind that if your care provider says "no sex," that may include anything that involves orgasm or sexual arousal, not just intercourse. Discuss it with your care provider and ensure you are clear on what they mean.
It is important to call your doctor if you have unusual symptoms during or after sex, such as:
Fluid or discharge
Good and bad sex positions during pregnancy
While sex is safe for most couples in pregnancy, it may not be as easy or comfortable as it was pre-pregnancy. You will probably need to find different positions so this can be a time to explore and experiment together.
After 20 weeks gestation, it is not advisable to lie on your back for long periods so best to avoid the missionary position. You may feel dizzy/lightheaded because you are compressing a large vein that is responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood back to the heart from the lower body.
Sex with your partner on top may also become uncomfortable quite early in pregnancy, not just because of the bump, but because your breasts might be tender. It can also be uncomfortable if your partner penetrates you too deeply.
It may be better to lie on your sides, either facing each other or with your partner behind. You may also want to try being on top during sex or being penetrated from behind while on your hands and knees. Use pillows to make yourself comfortable.
Are condoms necessary?
The possibility of conceiving while pregnant is extremely low but having a sexually transmitted infection during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for you and your unborn baby. If your partner has an active or recently diagnosed sexually transmitted infection, you should avoid vaginal, oral and anal sex until they complete their treatment.
It is also advisable to use a condom if:
You're not in a mutually monogamous relationship
You choose to have sex with a new partner during pregnancy
Experiences also differ in women, some may be more aroused and feel more connected to their sexuality, while others may lose the desire for any sexual contact and that is ok too. The key is to communicate with your partner.
On a final note, it is perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy unless your doctor or midwife advises you not to. It’s a great time for you and your partner to explore other positions and choose what works best for you both.
We hope, this article answered some of your basic questions regarding sex during pregnancy. Consult your care providers or sex therapist for individualized advice.