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Couples are often confused about having sex during pregnancy. They fear it may cause harm to the foetus or it may generally be an uncomfortable process. Pregnancy and childbirth are overwhelming experiences for a woman. She often goes through unnumbered physical and emotional changes, which may lead to mood swings and emotional toil. Physical intimacy and closeness during this period may help her in feeling more assured and secure in the relationship relieving her mental stress. But, whether or not sex is safe during pregnancy has been answered in this article. So, read on to find more.

  1. Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy
  2. Benefits of sex during pregnancy
  3. Low libido during pregnancy
  4. STDs during pregnancy
  5. How to have sex during pregnancy
  6. Risks of sex during pregnancy
  7. Complications of sex during pregnancy
  8. Takeaway

Yes, it is usually safe to have sex during pregnancy. Couples often have sex during the initial stages of pregnancy, the frequency of which decreases as pregnancy advances. This may be attributed to the fear of having sex to avoid harm to the growing foetus.

Your foetus is situated in your uterus and is well protected by the thick uterine lining. This lining prevents the foetus from any kind of harm. It is important to note that while having sex during pregnancy, vaginal, clitoral and nipple stimulation is likely to cause mild contractions. These are mostly experienced in the vagina and lower parts of the female reproductive system.

An orgasmic experience may, however, cause contractions, which may also be felt in the uterus. There is a chance that you may feel that the baby is somewhat moving, while you experience these contractions. But, this is not a matter of concern, since the baby is still well-protected within the endometrial linings of the uterus.

For some women, sex during pregnancy is more enjoyable because the breasts, vagina and other organs are often more sensitive. This is due to improved blood flow and perfusion of these organs during this stage.

In addition to being safe during pregnancy, sex is also likely to have benefits in some couples. In a normal pregnancy, sex during the last few weeks may help to prepare the woman’s body for labour. Most of the women experience intense pain at the time of labour.

Labour pain may be attributed to intense uterine contractions induced during labour, which puts immense pressure on the cervix, worsening the pain. Pain and cramping in the abdomen, groin, back and even thighs are experienced by women during labour.

While helping in the preparation of the body for labour, sex may help in reducing the intensity of this pain experienced by women. Some studies have also suggested that sex may help in the induction of labour. So, this may be recommended as a natural way of inducing labour in case of post-term pregnancies.

Genital and nipple stimulation during the act of sexual intercourse promote the release of oxytocin, which along with prostaglandins (obtained from the semen) lead to cervical ripening. This may be favourable in the induction of labour in women.

Some women do not feel like having sex at all during the course of pregnancy. Nausea, vomiting and other illnesses experienced by a woman during her initial stages of pregnancy may be responsible for her low sex drive.

It is important for a partner to understand the changes a woman is going through while she is pregnant. Having sex or not is entirely the decision of the couple. Some women and even men feel it is morally wrong to have sex while being pregnant. Such couples must consult a doctor and discuss these issues since this can negatively affect their sexual life ahead.

During pregnancy, many women also feel conscious due to bodily changes and the growing bump. For this reasons, women may prefer to avoid sexual intercourse. It is important for the partners to understand women’s concerns during this stage. Communicating with each other and spending quality time together is likely to resolve this issue and may help with your sexual life. It is important to be empathetic towards woman during these crucial times.

(Read more: Libido-boosting foods)

While it is considered safe for a woman to have sex with her partner while she has an uncomplicated pregnancy, it is also worthy to note that a woman must not have sex with another individual of unknown sexual history. The is a risk of getting infected with STDs even while you are pregnant.

In fact, it has a greater risk since you can transfer the infection to your child. If you choose to have sex with another person, it is essential to make the use of protective devices like condoms to avoid the risk of STDs in you and the baby.

In the case of unprotected sex, it is recommended to immediately visit your doctor. Some of the diseases like syphilis or gonorrhoea can be treated. Early detection of such diseases may prevent harm to the foetus.

Even while having sex with the partner during pregnancy, one must be careful. If at any point, you feel that you or your partner may have an infection, it is the best to consult with your doctor.

It is recommended to get yourself and your partner tested for STDs before you plan a baby, or at least at the beginning of pregnancy. These measures go a long way in protecting your child from the unwanted risk of STDs.

(Read more: How to have safe sex)

Now that it has been answered that sex is safe during pregnancy, another common concern surfaces, which is, how to have sex. During very initial stages of pregnancy, you can have regular sex as you did before.

However, as pregnancy advances, you need to take care of your body and the health of the foetus during sexual intercourse. The growing baby bump may make it difficult to have sex in the traditional man on the top manner.

Even if it is not physical discomforting for you, it is not recommended to have sex in this manner while you are pregnant. Having sex in this form puts the entire weight on your stomach, which is likely to reach the foetus and may hinder its development.

To avoid this, you can practice alternate positions like woman on top or side-to-side as suitable for you. This is unlikely to cause any harm. You can also opt for rear sex position if you feel it is comfortable.

After trying different positions, you and your partner will be able to find out a position that works during pregnancy. It is important to communicate about such matters rather than to be uncomfortable.

  1. Oral sex during pregnancy
  2. Sex during pregnancy: safe time

Oral sex during pregnancy

If sex is uncomfortable to you but you still want some physical intimacy with your partner, you may opt for having oral sex. Since it does not put any weight on your body and does not involve any vigorous movements, it is generally regarded as the safest form of sex during pregnancy. You may, however, make the use of oral dam devices or condom to prevent the risk of infections.

Sex during pregnancy: safe time

Sex is generally considered to be safe during pregnancy, but this may not be true at all times. It is the safest during the initial stages or the first trimester of pregnancy when major body changes have not taken place. The second trimester is also considered to be safe, but sex must be avoided in the third trimester since excessive weight gain and growth of bump occurs. This may make sex uncomfortable and may even affect the foetus. If at all, you have sex during this stage, it is essential to avoid putting weight on the foetus, as discussed above.

One particular time when you must avoid sex during pregnancy is after the waters of the woman have broken since this will be extremely painful for the woman. Moreover, it is important to immediately rush to the hospital upon incidence of such an event. 

As it is said that sex is safe during pregnancy, is it true for all couples? Since every pregnancy is differently experienced, this may not be true. Sex during pregnancy has serious risks in some women. These risks will be discussed in this section.

In a normal pregnancy, the foetus is situated deep inside the pelvis and is sufficiently protected by the mucosa. Further, mucus plug in the cervix prevents the entry of germs, bacteria and other disease-causing agents which could harm the foetus. But, in complicated pregnancies, sex may be associated with the risk of preterm labour (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and several other complications.

Some of the conditions associated with a high risk are listed below:

  • Risk or a history of preterm pregnancy - having sex increases the risk of preterm delivery
  • History of miscarriage- sex during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage by potentiating the intensity of uterine contractions in women who had miscarriages earlier. 
  • Presence of uterine fibroids- this may lead to painful sex
  • Having a weak or an incompetent cervix- this increases the risk of preterm labour
  • When the placenta is situated quite low- this may also cause preterm labour
  • Presence of urinary tract infection or symptoms of burning sensations or pain during micturition- can cause developmental disorders in the foetus and kidney problems in the mother
  • Risk of vaginal bleeding- sex increases the risk of excessive bleeding or haemorrhage
  • Having abdominal pain- sex further aggravates the pain in this case
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid- when the amniotic sac is ruptured, bacteria which infect the mother, reach up to the uterus, causing infections in the foetus
  • History of vaginal or reproductive issues
  • Late pregnancy- this is often associated with several complications
  • Prediction of twin birth or having multiple foetuses- this is often a complicated pregnancy
  • If your partner is infected with an STD or any other infections- the foetus may also get infected
  • Women who have had multiple abortions- this is associated with a risk of miscarriage.

In such cases, it is the best to consult your doctor before deciding to have sex during pregnancy. If not, complications may occur in the foetus and in the mother.

Following are the complications that can from having sex during pregnancy:

Sex is generally regarded as safe in normal pregnancy. Couples commonly have sex during the beginning of pregnancy, the frequency of which is known to diminish as pregnancy progresses, due to physical discomfort. However, couples can have sex until the beginning of late pregnancy if they practice intercourse safely. 

It is recommended to opt for positions that do not put weight on the foetus. Sex is considered to be beneficial even during the late stages of pregnancy as it prepares the body for labour.

However, abstinence from sex is advised if you are at a predicted risk of miscarriage or have a history of abortions or miscarriage. In case of infections, too late or too early pregnancy, excessive pain, fibroids or vaginal bleeding and presence of multiple foetuses, sex at best must be avoided.

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References

  1. Mahboobeh Kafaei Atrian et al. The Association of Sexual Intercourse During Pregnancy With Labor Onset . Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015 Jan; 17(1): e16465. PMID: 25763253
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; STDs during Pregnancy - CDC Fact Sheet
  3. American Pregnancy Association. [Internet]; Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy.
  4. nidirect [Internet]. Government of Northern Ireland; Sex during pregnancy
  5. Malikha V. Rogers. SEX DURING PREGNANCY: COMMON QUESTIONS AND PRACTICAL ANSWERS. JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, VOL. 75, NO. 11, 1983
  6. Claire Jones, Crystal Chan, Dan Farine. Sex in pregnancy . CMAJ. 2011 Apr 19; 183(7): 815–818. PMID: 21282311
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