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.

Is sex different during pregnancy?

You might already know that sex is different during pregnancy. Sex might feel better or worse for the following reasons:

Your hormones are also at play. They can change your emotional and physical feelings regarding sexual activity.

Is sex during pregnancy 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.

Talk to your doctor if you have:

Abstinence might not help your situation, but pelvic rest is usually recommended as a precaution to avoid complications.

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 mucus plug provide an additional barrier of protection.

Diminished sex drive during pregnancy

Don’t fret if you aren’t “in the mood.” As the months roll on, you may feel sick, tired, or not very sexy.

It’s more than fine to skip sex and enjoy snuggle time instead. Physical intimacy can involve so much more than sex. Just listen to your body and do what’s right for you. You might try:

Causes of contractions after sex

You might experience contractions during and after sex. They can occur after orgasm or intercourse. They’re usually normal, such as Braxton-Hicks contractions, and don’t produce cervical changes.

These contractions happen for a variety of reasons.

  • Your body releases oxytocin when you orgasm, making your muscles contract.
  • 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, taking a warm shower, or drinking a glass of water until they pass. These contractions are generally harmless and don’t usually lead to premature labor.

Premature labor

It’s important to understand the difference between contractions after sex and premature 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:

Your doctor may be able to give you medication 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 any of these symptoms:

Also let your doctor know if you experience any other discomfort 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 is better safe than sorry.

Sexual activities to avoid during pregnancy

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.
  • If you’re having sex with someone whose sexual history you’re unsure of, practice safe sex to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Certain STIs 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 woman on top and spooning positions to stay comfortable.

The takeaway

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.