Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?

Reviewed on 9/7/2021

Is it safe to have sex 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!
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!

A common concern among pregnant women is whether or not it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy. You might be worried about your baby’s health, your own pleasure, or wonder if having sex will induce labor. 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!

For the average women during a healthy pregnancy, having sex has no negative effects on the mother or the baby. It seems dangerous to have penetrative sex—with a penis or sex toy—because nothing will go past your vagina into your uterus where your baby is.

The uterus has protective muscles that guard your unborn child, assisted by the amniotic fluid that fills the uterus and surrounds the baby. A mucus plug at the opening of the cervix keeps infection from harming your baby. Your body is the safest place for your baby, even if you do choose to have sex.

Another common worry is that orgasms might induce labor because they often cause small contractions. Although these Braxton Hicks contractions might be uncomfortable and distract you from sex, they are a typical part of pregnancy. Just wait until they pass before resuming activity.

When to avoid sex during pregnancy

Although it’s generally safe to have sex while pregnant, there are times when you should avoid sex. A healthcare professional can advise you according to your specific situation, but you should avoid sex if:

  • Your water broke. After your water breaks, there is less barrier between your baby and outside bacteria. Having sex increases risk of infection before the baby is even born.
  • You’re experiencing problems with your cervix. A premature opening at the entrance of your womb, also known as an incomplete cervix, could mean you have a higher chance of going into labor early or having a miscarriage.
  • You’re pregnant with twins or have a history of early labor and you’re in the final stage of pregnancy. Towards the end of your pregnancy you should be a little more cautious, regardless of your situation.
  • You are bleeding from your vagina. Some women bleed during pregnancy, and some don’t. It’s hard to know why you’re bleeding unless you visit your healthcare provider, and sex could irritate a potentially serious internal issue.
  • Your partner wants to blow air into your vagina. Oral sex is all right but if your partner blows air inside of you, both you and your baby could be in serious danger. The air could block one of your blood vessels and threaten both of your lives.

If you notice that something is off while you’re having sex or immediately after, stop and contact your healthcare provider or visit the emergency room. Red flags could look like:

  • Pain while you’re having sex
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Slow leak of amniotic fluid
  • Painful cramps after sex

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Sex positions during pregnancy

In your first trimester you might be able to have sex as you normally would, but as your body changes you might want to try sex positions that are more enjoyable. If sex is painful or you’ve been told to avoid specific sex positions, here are some suggestions that are easier and sometimes safer for your pregnancy:

  • Lying on your side with your partner behind you. This is less work for you, and your baby bump won’t get in the way.
  • Penetration from behind while on your hands and knees. You can prop yourself up on pillows and relax.
  • You on top of your partner. Speed and comfort will be under your control, and there won’t be any pressure on your baby bump.
  • Anal sex. Typically, anal sex is a safe choice for pregnant women. Don’t have anal sex if you have hemorrhoids, and don’t have anal sex immediately before having vaginal sex. Introducing germs from the anus to the vagina could pass harmful germs on to your baby.

Positions to avoid include:

  • Sex with your partner on top. Like this, your baby bump and tender breasts could be rubbed or irritated.
  • Deep penetration. This kind of sex won’t touch or hurt your baby, but it can be painful because of the internal pressure and sensitivity that comes along with pregnancy.

If your healthcare provider gives you the green light to have sex while pregnant, the choice is yours. If you’re interested in sex, find ways to do it in ways that are safe and comfortable for you.

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References
Cleveland Clinic: "Sex During Pregnancy: Your Questions Answered."

Health Service Executive: "Sex during pregnancy."

March of Dimes: "Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?"

Mayo Clinic: "Sex during pregnancy: What's OK, what's not."

National Health Service: "Sex in pregnancy."

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