Sex during Pregnancy: When Safe and Fun, When Risky and Dangerous

You have had unprotected sex, missed your period and the doctor announces your pregnancy. But, as the days progress, the urge to have sex during your pregnancy days persists as with most women. Is it good or bad? Will it harm your progressing status?

Here are the guidelines that tell you when to and when not to indulge in sexual activity during your pregnancy.

Pregnancy brings about physiological, hormonal and physical changes in a woman and is a milestone in her life filled with apprehensions and anxiety.

It does, at times result in a few complications and this is very much at the forefront of a pregnant woman’s mind. The question of safety of having sex during pregnancy too raises doubts in her mind and this article explores just this.

Generally, if you are having an uncomplicated healthy pregnancy and you are maintaining a healthy weight gain, you can go for sex all the way up to labor throughout the three trimesters.

However, follow the safety norms such as having sex only in some positions that do not put any weight on the pregnant abdomen as is the case in the usual missionary position (man on top).

Some women may have certain contraindications, which may not allow sex. I have explained them below. It is best to talk to your OB/GYN about your sexual plans.

Is it safe to have sex during your pregnancy days?

If you are pregnant, one of the doubts that do arise in your mind is whether it is safe to have sex without harming your pregnancy.

The answer is: it is safe, but only in an uncomplicated healthy pregnancy and if it is proceeding normally. And, it is always advisable to talk to your gynecologist about this before indulging in any form of sexual activity.

There are certain contraindications to having sex during this period and they are explained below. But in a healthy pregnancy, sex can be enjoyed and having an orgasm does not cause any harm.

Can sex induce labor?

No, in a normal and healthy pregnancy, having sex when pregnant will not induce or trigger labor.

During an orgasm, there are contractions of the pelvic muscles and the uterus wall muscles but these uterine contractions are mild and different from the uterine contractions, which induce labor and therefore, do not interfere with pregnancy.

On an average, orgasms tend to last from a few seconds to 30 seconds. Some women, however, may have slightly longer orgasms.

Can sex during pregnancy harm the baby?

The fetus or the developing baby in your uterus is enveloped in an amniotic sac, which is filled with amniotic fluid and in which the fetus floats.

The amniotic fluid acts as a cushion and protects the baby from trauma and harm.

Secondly, during pregnancy, the cervical and vaginal secretions are more and form a protective mucus plug, which blocks the opening of the cervix.

Thirdly, you have the strong muscles of the uterine wall, which provide a strong protection to the developing baby.

Another doubt that arises is: will the thrusts of the penis harm the baby in the womb? As mentioned above, the baby is floating in the amniotic sac and is not fixed. The amniotic fluid is adequate, allowing the baby to float around and growing in quantity as the baby grows in size.

For example, the amount of amniotic fluid is maximum at about 34 weeks’ gestation when it averages 800 ml. At full term, it measures about 600 ml (40 weeks gestation).

Sexual intercourse, therefore, does not harm the baby nor will it poke the baby when your pregnancy is healthy with a healthy amniotic sac. And neither should you worry about miscarriage when all things look fair and square.

Why some women find pregnancy sex more enjoyable?

Some women enjoy sex more when pregnant while some may experience a low sexual drive. The reasons for a more enjoyable sex for both partners could be any or all of the following:

  • Birth control measures such as condoms are not necessary.
  • There are more cervical and vaginal secretions, which increase lubrication making sex more enjoyable to both the partners.
  • There is an increased blood flow to the pelvic area, which causes engorgement of the genitals, including the clitoris that increases the sexual urge.
  • More blood supply to the breasts and the nipples make them more sensitive to touch.
  • Men find the woman’s increased size of the breasts more erotic.

Sexual feelings in women during pregnancy trimester-wise

  1. During the first trimester (1st three months), the feeling of fatigue, nausea, morning sickness and the hormonal changes do lower your sexual appetite.
  2. During the second trimester, there is an increase in blood volume and more blood flows to your sexual organs and the breasts. This may cause an increased desire for sex.
  3. During the third trimester, the sex urge is dampened due to back pain, weight gain, and apprehension of the oncoming labor. Again, becoming self-conscious about the weight gain and increased abdominal girth may dampen your urge.

Precautions to follow for pregnancy sex 

  • Protect yourself and your pregnancy from sexually transmitted diseases like herpes, venereal warts, HIV, gonorrhea, etc if you are having sex with a new partner or multiple partners and are not in a monogamous relationship. These infections can harm your pregnancy as well as your baby. Use of condoms during pregnancy sex and even otherwise in such cases, therefore, becomes mandatory.
  • If oral sex is resorted to, care should be taken that air is not blown into the vagina for fear of air embolism (block of a blood vessel by an air bubble). This is a life-threatening situation for the unborn baby and the pregnant mother.
  • Avoid anal sex because of the likelihood of the presence of hemorrhoids, which may be present due to pregnancy.
  • Many doctors advise against having pregnancy sex during last few weeks of pregnancy because the prostaglandins (hormone) in the semen can stimulate uterine contractions. However, this is debated.
  • Avoid using lubricating gels during pregnancy sex as vaginal moistness is enough.  However, if you have to use some lubricant, then use a water-based lubricant like K-Y jelly.

When not to have sex in pregnancy? Contraindications

Your doctor may recommend against having sex during your pregnancy on account of various reasons:

  • When you have had a history of miscarriage or abortion or if there is a threatening indication for it. Such a history increases your risk of miscarriage again and it is necessary to take precaution.
  • History or risk of premature labor
  • If you are having unexplained vaginal bleeding, or discharge or if there is abdominal cramping.
  • If your amniotic sac membrane has ruptured and your “water has broken”.
  • If you are having placenta previa. This is a condition where the placenta is situated lower down in the uterus and covers the cervical opening of the uterus. In such cases, trauma due to sex can damage the placenta. The placenta is a blood-rich organ that connects the fetus to the uterine wall of the mother through which nourishment is passed from the mother to the fetus and waste returned.
  • If you have an incompetent cervix, sex intercourse can increase risk the of miscarriage. An incompetent cervix is one, which has opened too early in pregnancy due to some pathology.
  • When either of the partners has sexually transmitted disease. In such cases, use condoms and treat your STD.
  • If you are having multiple pregnancies such as twins, triplets, etc. This is because a woman with multiple pregnancies is at a greater risk of going into preterm labor and sex can increase that risk.

FAQs

Is it safe to swallow the semen after oral sex?

Yes, it is absolutely safe to swallow the semen after oral sex, if your partner does not have any sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Semen consists of only one percent sperm; the rest is composed of over 200 separate proteins, vitamins including vitamin C and vitamin B12, minerals including calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc and chlorine, citric acid, fructose, and lactic acid.

Is it safe to ejaculate inside the vagina?

Yes, it is safe to ejaculate inside the uterus after sex during pregnancy. No reason not to.

Where does the sperm go after sex when you’re pregnant?

After sex with the semen and its sperms inside your vagina, some of it may spill out, while the rest is absorbed through the vaginal wall.

In normal circumstances, the sperms wriggle into the uterus in search of the egg and travel as far up as the fallopian tube.

During pregnancy, the cervical opening of the uterus is closed and plugged by the mucus and the sperms cannot enter the uterus.

When should a woman stop having sex during pregnancy?

Most experts feel there is no reason to stop sex when pregnant in an uncomplicated healthy pregnancy. However, some doctors do advise to refrain during the last few weeks.

Other pathological reasons have been explained above.

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