Can I Have Sex During Pregnancy and Is It Safe?
We are often asked this question. During a normal pregnancy, sex is safe right through to the end of the third trimester.
Your baby cannot be harmed during sexual intercourse as the baby is surrounded and cushioned by the amniotic fluid within the placental sac and is protected within the strong muscular uterus. The uterus is above the vagina and the thick mucous plug that seals the long and closed cervix helps guard against infection.
Are there times to avoid sex in Pregnancy?
It might be recommended to avoid sex in pregnancy if:
- You have threatened premature labour and your cervix begins to open prematurely
- History of preterm labour or premature birth
- Leaking of the amniotic fluid from the vagina
- If your placenta partially or completely covers the internal opening of the cervix (known as Placenta Praevia)
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
This would be discussed and confirmed at your antenatal visits if you were to avoid sexual intercourse.
What if I don’t feel like Sex in Pregnancy?
Some common reasons you may experience a reduction in libido during pregnancy are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme tiredness/lethargy
- Back pain and pelvic discomfort
- Altered self-image and changing body shape
- Anxiety/depression and fear of the unknown
Communication with your partner is the key to navigating a physical and emotional connection during pregnancy. If sex is difficult or off limits in pregnancy, you may find that cuddling, kissing or massage can be nice alternatives.
Sometimes it may be your partner who has concerns about sexual intercourse during pregnancy, and usually it is associated with fears that sex can harm the baby or cause health concerns for both mother and baby. Again, good communication and education can alleviate fears/anxieties and can also create alternatives.
Oral Sex in Pregnancy
Oral sex for women is safe in pregnancy and can be a great alternative if you have been advised against vaginal sex, as mentioned above. However, there are a few precautions you should take. Provided you and your partner do not have any STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) or ‘cold sores’ (herpes infections), oral sex will not harm mother or baby. It is important that your partner does not blow air into the vagina, as it is possible for an air bubble to block a blood vessel and cause an air embolism, which can potentially be fatal for mother and baby. This is very rare, however, but important to remember.
Can Sex Improve in Pregnancy?
Some women have an increased libido during pregnancy, particularly in the second trimester due to the extra flood of the hormone oxytocin, which causes increased uterine blood flow, increased vaginal lubrication and nipple sensitivity. Without the worry of contraception or falling pregnant, some women also report sex in pregnancy is more enjoyable and empowering.
Helpful things to Know
During or following sex, you may feel your baby moving; particularly if your heart rate increases or the muscles of your uterus contract due to orgasm. Even without orgasm, you may have some Braxton Hick’s Contractions, which are the non-painful uterine tightenings, and this is very normal.
Exploring different positions when having sex whilst pregnant may be necessary for pleasure and comfort as your baby bump grows.
It is safe to say that women’s experiences are vastly different in relation to sex in pregnancy, and what might be your experience may not be someone else’s.
Sex after Birth
Recovering from the birth of your baby is very individual and often depends on the type of labour and delivery you had. Caring for a newborn can be exhausting, both emotionally and physically. Resuming sexual intercourse and intimacy may take time. Look after each other and be patient.
It normally takes six weeks for the uterus to evolute back to its original size, for the vaginal discharge from the uterus to cease and for the vaginal tears or caesarean section scars to heal well and reduce in tenderness. Your body may look and feel different post birth but it will take time, rest and exercise to get back to normal.
Resuming sexual intercourse when you feel emotionally and physically well is preferable and usually this is not before six weeks, post delivery.
Some helpful tips
- Resuming sex can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful post birth, however, this usually improves with time. Take your time and begin gently.
- Following birth your body produces low levels of Oestrogen due to breastfeeding. The vagina may be dry for the first three months post birth because of this. A water-based lubricant may help with this.
- Resuming intimacy with your partner when the baby is less likely to wake up or when you are not too tired is a good idea.
- Don’t be surprised if you are breastfeeding you may have a ‘let down ‘ of breast milk during sex or orgasm. This is normal and very common.
- Continue your pelvic floor exercises post birth as the vaginal muscles may be temporarily stretched after vaginal birth and regaining tone will help with sexual intercourse.
- Before resuming sexual intercourse you need to discuss contraceptive options with you partner. This will also be discussed at your six week postnatal appointment.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to discuss during one of your appointments. If you’re not a patient of Dr Morris, contact us to organise an appointment.