Is it safe to have sex while pregnant?
Pregnancy is an exciting time in any parent's life. While you're preparing for many life changes that come with a new baby, you may wonder how much your sex life needs to change when you're pregnant. It's normal for expectant parents to wonder if having sex while pregnant is safe and if they need to take extra precautions. The good news is that for most expectant parents, sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe and can even be beneficial. Pregnancy sex only needs to be avoided if you have specific pregnancy complications or have been advised not to have sex by your healthcare provider.
Your baby is well-protected by your body when you're pregnant. Inside the amniotic sac, your baby is cushioned by amniotic fluid as well as being supported by the strong muscles of the uterus. During a low-risk pregnancy that's progressing normally, sexual activity is safe during the entire pregnancy. Sexual intercourse, penetration with fingers, and sex toys are all generally safe during pregnancy.
Oral sex during pregnancy is safe; however, your partner should never blow air into your vagina while performing oral sex while pregnant. This can cause an embolism, which, while rare, can be fatal.
Ask your healthcare provider before having anal sex during pregnancy. Anal bacteria can be spread to other areas during sex and can cause dangerous infections during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are also common during pregnancy, which can increase the risk of rectal bleeding from anal sex.
While most sex positions are safe during pregnancy, you may find that some positions are uncomfortable. Many pregnant people prefer positions that don't put weight or pressure on the front of their body, such as a side-lying position, being penetrated from behind in a hands-and-knees position, or having sex with the pregnant partner on top.
It's normal to have some spotting after pregnancy sex because of increased blood flow to the cervix. However, if bleeding is persistent or becomes heavy, contact your healthcare provider.
What are the benefits of having sex while pregnant?
Sex during a low-risk pregnancy can have mental, emotional, and health benefits for expectant parents. Benefits include:
- Bonding with your partner
- Healthy exercise
- Better moods from endorphins released during sex
- Stronger orgasms from increased blood flow to the genital area during pregnancy.
Late in pregnancy, sex or orgasms can trigger mild contractions called Braxton-Hicks contractions. Unlike contractions during labor, Braxton-Hicks contractions don't dilate the cervix and generally aren't of any concern. Some medical professionals believe that these contractions help prepare the uterus for labor, and they may play a role in softening the cervix.
Who shouldn't have sex while pregnant?
While sex during pregnancy is safe for most people, it isn't safe for everyone. You should talk to your doctor or midwife before having sex if:
- You have had any signs of pre-term labor or have a history of pre-term labor
- You experience any bleeding, cramping, or unusual discharge
- Your water has broken, or you're leaking amniotic fluid
- You've been diagnosed with placenta previa, a condition where the placenta covers the opening of the cervix
- You're carrying multiples (twins, triplets) and are further along in your pregnancy
If you or your partner have other sexual partners or begin a relationship with a new sexual partner, you should use condoms or another barrier method during sex. Sexually transmitted infections can be more dangerous than usual during pregnancy, not only to you but to the child you're carrying.
What if I don't want to have sex while pregnant?
While some people have a heightened libido during pregnancy, others find that they don't have much sexual desire or that sex is uncomfortable for them while pregnant. Nausea, physical discomfort, and worries about birth and parenting can all decrease a pregnant person's sex drive. It's completely normal to want to have more or less sex than usual or not to want to have sex at all while pregnant. It's OK to avoid having sex during pregnancy if you don't feel up to it.
If you have a sexual partner with whom you're expecting a baby but aren't in the mood to have sex, consider nurturing other forms of bonding and intimacy. Cuddling while watching a movie, massaging, planning a date night or a babymoon, or participating in a hobby that you both enjoy can all be good, non-sexual options.
Non-pregnant partners can also struggle with their sex drive during pregnancy. They may need time to adjust to the idea of parenthood, be worried about hurting the baby by having sex, or have other concerns. Good communication can help you and your partner address any worries you may have and decide how you'd like to approach sex during pregnancy.
Sex while pregnant can be a healthy bonding opportunity for expectant couples and a good form of exercise, but it's not a requirement. Listen to your body, and don't push yourself to participate in anything that's painful or that makes you uncomfortable. With proper precautions (like using condoms, if needed), sex can be an enjoyable activity for people with a low-risk pregnancy. If you have any doubts about whether or not sex during pregnancy is safe for you, consult your doctor or midwife for their advice.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?"
American Pregnancy Association: "Braxton Hicks Contractions.", "Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?", "Oral and Anal Sex During Pregnancy."
KidsHealth: "Sex During Pregnancy."
Mayo Clinic: Sex during pregnancy: "What's OK, what's not."
National Health Services: "Sex in pregnancy."
Top When Should You Stop Having Sex While Pregnant Related Articles
4 Sex Topics You Should Discuss With Your PartnerOne-on-one contact, empathy, and emotional connections are all usually very important in establishing sexual intimacy. Four sex topics you should discuss with your partner include physical limitations, gender history, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and religious upbringing.
6 of Your Most Embarrassing Sex Questions AnsweredSex can be awkward, confusing, and uncomfortable. Maybe you have questions about what's normal and what's supposed to happen during sex.
Does Sex Make a Relationship Stronger?Safe sex in loving relationships leads to greater happiness and well-being for individuals and couples. It's not just sex that is important, though. Instead, it's the affection that sex brings to your relationship.
Can Having Sex In Your Third Trimester Induce Labor?Sex allows you to enjoy physical pleasure and intimacy with your partner with little chance of harming your baby. No medical studies definitively indicate that sex in the third trimester of pregnancy can induce labor.
How Much Sex Is Safe in First Trimester?A decrease in sex drive or an increase in frequency can occur during pregnancy and at differing levels. During all stages of a low-risk pregnancy, sex is safe if you are at low risk for preterm labor, miscarriage, or other complications.
Is It Normal to Have Sex Every Day?Sex is known to be a proven stressbuster that elevates your mood instantly, and yes, it is completely normal to have sex every day. There are phases in life when you have sex more frequently.
Does sex really help you lose weight? While it’s not the most effective form of exercise for weight loss, it can burn calories and work for certain muscle groups.
Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?You should talk to a healthcare provider if you feel like your situation is unique, but the general answer is yes—sex is safe during pregnancy!
Sex & Love QuizRelationships, sex, and love! Could it be that what motivates physical attraction in us may be all in our minds? Take the Sex & Love Quiz to challenge yourself on healthy human sexuality!
Sex-Drive KillersNoticing a lack of intimacy with your partner? Here we explore how stress, lack of sleep, weight gain, depression and low T can cause low sex drive in men and women.
Sexual Health: Safe Sex Mistakes to AvoidEveryone makes mistakes. But when it comes to sex, they can be costly. WebMD explores common safe sex slip-ups.
Sexual Health: Common Sex Injuries and Other HazardsSex is supposed to be pleasurable, but make the wrong moves in the bedroom, and it can hurt.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pregnancy (STDs)When you are pregnant, many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be especially harmful to you and your baby. These STDs include herpes, HIV/AIDS, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Symptoms include bumps, sores, warts, swelling, itching, or redness in the genital region. Treatment of STDs while pregnant depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy and the progression of the infection.
Stages of Pregnancy: Week by WeekSee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
What Causes Low, Normal, and High Sex DrivesYour sex drive, also called your libido, refers to how much you would like to have sex. Low, normal, and high sex drives may be due to hormones, medical problems, medications, mental health issues, and other factors.
What Medicine Helps a Woman’s Sex Drive?FDA-approved medications that may boost a woman’s libido (sex drive) include Addyi (flibanserin) and Vylessi (bremelanotide).