It’s generally safe to have sex while you’re pregnant. Most couples can engage in sexual intercourse throughout pregnancy up until delivery day.
But your body might react differently to sex when you’re pregnant. You might even notice mild Braxton-Hicks contractions after you orgasm.
Here’s a look at what’s safe, what’s not, and when you should call your doctor.
Sex During Pregnancy
You might already know that sex is different during pregnancy. More blood is flowing to your vagina, your breasts are likely swollen, and they might be more sensitive. Sex might feel better or worse for these reasons.
Your hormones are also at play. They can change your emotional and physical feelings regarding sexual activity.
Is It Safe?
In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers reviewed a variety of issues surrounding sex and pregnancy. Their conclusion? Sex is a safe activity if you have a low-risk pregnancy.
If you have placenta previa, a risk of preterm labor, or other pregnancy complications, talk to your doctor. Abstinence might not help your situation, but pelvic rest is usually recommended as a precaution.
Women who have a history of miscarriage should also talk to their doctors. Having sex during pregnancy might not always be safe in this case.
Worried about baby? Remember that your little one is nestled safely in the amniotic sac and cushioned by your strong uterine muscles. Your cervix and mucous plug provide an additional barrier of protection.
Not in the Mood?
Don’t fret if you aren’t in the mood. You may feel sick, tired, or not very sexy as the months roll on.
It’s more than OK to skip the physical intimacy and enjoy snuggle time instead. Just listen to your body and do what’s right for you.
Why Contractions Happen
You might experience contractions during and after sex. They can occur after orgasm or intercourse. These contractions are usually normal, like Braxton-Hicks, and don’t produce cervical changes.
These contractions happen for a variety of reasons.
- Your body releases oxytocin when you orgasm. It makes your muscles contract.
- Your partner’s semen contains prostaglandins that can trigger uterine contractions.
- Your nipples are sensitive during pregnancy. If your partner stimulates your nipples during sex, you might experience contractions.
- Your body is undoubtedly in motion during sex. The physical activity and different positions may also cause contractions.
Contractions after sex are usually mild and resolve within a couple hours. Try lying down, relaxing, or drinking a glass of water until they pass. These contractions are generally harmless and don’t usually lead to premature labor.
It’s important to understand the difference between contractions after sex and preterm labor. Premature labor is labor that starts more than three weeks before your expected due date.
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:
- cramping, pain, or pressure in your pelvis
- increased discharge, fluid, or bleeding from your vagina
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- fewer fetal movements
- four or more contractions in an hour that don’t go away with rest or repositioning
Your doctor may be able to give you medicine to stop labor if you’re far away from your due date. Seek help as soon as possible, even if it might be a false alarm.
When to Call Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor if you experience pain, spotting, or bleeding. Also let your doctor know if you experience any other discomforts during or after sex.
If your water breaks or you suspect you’re in preterm labor, you might want to visit the emergency room. This is only if you don’t think you have time to consult with your doctor over the phone.
The motto here: Better safe than sorry.
While most sex is safe during pregnancy, the Nemours Foundation outlines a few activities you should avoid.
- Tell your partner not to blow air into your vagina during oral sex. Doing so could put you at risk for developing an air embolism that could prove fatal for both you and baby.
- Don’t have sex with anyone whose sexual background is unknown to you. Doing so could put you in danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Certain STDs could affect your baby.
- Avoid anal sex unless you have permission from your doctor.
Also note that positions that worked before pregnancy might no longer be comfortable. Certain positions can even be unsafe in the later months of pregnancy. Avoid lying flat on your back after the fourth month, as it puts pressure on major blood vessels.
Try staying on your hands and knees during the first and second trimester to reduce the pressure on your belly. As your pregnancy progresses, try the woman on top and spooning positions to stay comfortable.
Being pregnant doesn’t mean your sex life ends for nine months. In fact, it could be the beginning of a whole new world of connection and pleasure. Discuss your feelings with your partner and pay attention to how your body responds. Most of all, enjoy your time together.