Masturbation is a normal, natural act

Pregnancy is an exciting time. But for first-time mothers, it can also be nerve-wracking. There are so many pregnancy myths. What you read online or in books can be confusing.

During your first pregnancy, you’re learning what’s safe and what isn’t. It’s recommended to err on the side of caution.

Certain topics like masturbation during pregnancy may be considered taboo. Some women may feel embarrassed asking whether masturbation during pregnancy is safe, or if it poses a risk to their developing baby.

The answer is simple: Masturbation is a natural, normal act. Unless your pregnancy is high-risk, it’s usually fine to masturbate during pregnancy. Here’s what else you should know.

Is it safe to masturbate while I’m pregnant?

A pregnant woman is still a sexual woman. Many women find that their libido actually increases significantly during pregnancy. Blame it on all those hormonal changes! As progesterone and estrogen increase, your sexual appetite can increase, too.

The opposite may also be true: Some women find they have zero interest in sex or masturbation. This is understandable between the nausea and vomiting, exhaustion, and the physical changes to your body. Showing no interest in sex is also normal.

If you’re experiencing normal or increased desires, sex and masturbation shouldn’t be an issue during a low-risk pregnancy. Your doctor will advise you on whether vaginal penetration and orgasm are a problem.

Some women notice mild cramping sensations after reaching orgasm during sex or masturbation. This sensation is related to contracting muscles, and it may trigger Braxton-Hicks contractions, a kind of irregular uterine contraction that eventually tapers off and disappears.

If you are high-risk for premature delivery, orgasm can increase chances of going into labor. Semen ejaculated into the vagina can also cause the cervix to soften and trigger labor. For women who are not high-risk, sex and orgasm are fine.

What are the benefits of masturbation during pregnancy?

Many women find that masturbation is a great tension reliever during pregnancy. It can also be a satisfying alternative when your growing belly makes intercourse difficult.

As your pregnancy progresses, it can be tricky to find sexual positions that are comfortable and enjoyable for you and your partner.

Some men may have concerns about sex during pregnancy because they worry about hurting their partner or the baby. In that case, mutual masturbation may be a good alternative for you both.

Some women find that masturbating during pregnancy is a unique way to explore their changing body.

Pregnancy affects the body in so many ways, and these changes can be startling. Feeling comfortable with your body during your pregnancy can be a very positive thing, and masturbation may be a useful avenue for this.

Physical pleasure may be a welcome relief for women dealing with the least pleasant sides of pregnancy, including:

  • morning sickness
  • low back pain
  • sciatica
  • swollen feet

Masturbating during your pregnancy doesn’t need to be different than any other time. If you usually use toys or devices, discontinue use if they are uncomfortable or cause cramps. Don’t use if:

  • your water breaks
  • you have had any bleeding
  • you are high-risk for premature labor
  • you have a low-lying placenta

It’s also important to make sure that these items have been properly cleaned before you use them.

When should masturbation be avoided during pregnancy?

In some cases, your doctor may advise you to avoid intercourse during your pregnancy. They may recommend this at certain times, or even for the entire length of your pregnancy.

Circumstances like these can be reasons to abstain from sex:

  • you’re having signs of preterm labor, or you have a history of preterm labor with previous pregnancies
  • you’ve been diagnosed with placenta previa or an incompetent cervix
  • you’ve been experiencing vaginal bleeding

Specifics can vary, so if your doctor recommends no sex, ask exactly what that means.

It could mean intercourse, orgasm, or both, or it may mean penetration only. If your doctor advises abstaining from sex, ask if that includes masturbation.

The takeaway

If you have a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, masturbation, sex, and orgasms are safe and normal ways to relieve tension. Unless your doctor has advised against sexual activity, masturbation shouldn’t be a problem while you’re pregnant.

Be aware that an orgasm can trigger mild cramps known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. This isn’t an issue if they remain irregular and eventually fade away. But contact your doctor if your cramps become painful, begin happening in a consistent pattern, or you experience a discharge of blood or water.


What’s important for women to know about sex and masturbating during pregnancy?

Anonymous patient


Sex, masturbation, and orgasm are all parts of normal pregnancy and sexuality. Your libido changes in pregnancy. Just be gentle with sex toys and wash them before use. Keep in mind, orgasm can lead to a cramp or two, which usually goes away with rest.

Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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