Sex During Pregnancy

Pregnancy may affect your feelings about sex and you or your partner may have questions about the safety of sexual relations during pregnancy. Sexual relations may include cuddling, intercourse, oral sex, manual stimulation, and masturbation.

In a normal pregnancy without complications, all forms of sexual expression are safe and will not harm you or the baby. It is rare for intercourse or orgasm to cause a miscarriage. If you do not have a history or signs of miscarriage or premature labor, you may continue to have sexual relations until you go into labor. If at any time you have questions about your form of sexual expression, please talk with us.

Changes in Sexuality

It is perfectly normal for your feelings and your partner's feelings about sex to change during your pregnancy. At times your desire for sex may increase. At other times one or both of you may feel less interested in sex. However, there are some factors during the different phases of pregnancy that can influence sexual desire:

  • During the first trimester extreme tenderness of the breasts, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and fears of miscarriage may decrease a woman's sexual desire. Alternately, for some couples, knowledge of the pregnancy increases the closeness and sexual desire that they feel.
  • In the second trimester, many women have an increased interest in sex. This may be because nausea, fatigue, and fears of miscarriage are usually over, and there is a greater physical comfort with intimacy. Another possible explanation is the increased blood supply to the pelvic area, which creates greater sensitivity and stronger orgasms.
  • During the third trimester, either partner may feel awkward about the woman's enlarged abdomen. Some women may feel unattractive because of the physical changes of late pregnancy. Finding a comfortable position for intercourse may be difficult. Parents may worry that sex will harm the baby. Occasionally, partners may resent all the attention the woman is giving to preparation for the birth. Any of these factors may decrease sexual desire. However, it is also possible to feel a special closeness and excitement that increases sexual desire.

Make sure that you and your partner share your feelings with each other. Many women find that they need more affection, closeness, and tenderness during pregnancy. Intercourse is not the only form of sexual expression and you will need to talk to each other about that. Other forms of intimacy can be equally satisfying.

Different Positions

As your pregnancy progresses and your abdomen becomes large, intercourse may become uncomfortable. During the last few months avoid excessive pressure on your abdomen. Also, deep penetration of the penis may be painful. Try the following positions for greater comfort:

  • woman on top
  • vaginal intercourse from behind ("doggy style")
  • facing each other while lying on your sides

Limitations

There are some conditions under which we may advise you to limit or avoid intercourse or orgasm during your pregnancy. These conditions include:

  • a history of miscarriage, premature labor, or premature delivery
  • cramps or bleeding
  • placenta previa
  • infection in either partner
  • pain with intercourse
  • leaking fluid or breaking of your bag of water.

Many pregnant women feel some brief abdominal or uterine cramping after intercourse or orgasm. Contact us if the cramping worsens or continues after one hour of rest. Light bleeding may occur after intercourse. It should always be painless (that is, less painful than the cramps you feel during menstruation). The bleeding should stop soon after you rest. If the bleeding does not stop, call us. If your bag of water breaks, you should stop having intercourse.

Precautions

If you have oral sex, remember that air should never be blown into the vagina. This can cause an air bubble to get into your bloodstream, which can be fatal to you and your baby.

Whatever form of sexual expression you choose, it is important to have only one partner. Women who have more than one sexual partner have a greater risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease, which could be dangerous for both you and the baby.