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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Having Sex During Pregnancy (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Johnson Memorial Health on Jul 2, 2015

You have to have sex to get pregnant, but what about after you are already pregnant? Is it OK? Will it hurt the baby? Is there a time when it's not OK? Are there certain things I should know before proceeding?


Sometimes we are afraid or embarrassed to talk to our doctor about certain topics.

 For some, sex is probably one of those topics. Today's post is geared to answer those questions about sex during pregnancy that are you are afraid to ask. Even though the following information is from reputable sources, you still need to be willing to talk to your doctor when necessary, no matter how embarrassed you may feel. Your doctor is there to help you without judgment as you progress through your pregnancy. Be sure to be open to talking to your partner about how you are feeling, and keep a sense of humor. Your body and mind are going through a lot of changes during pregnancy, and those changes can affect how you feel. If you work together, you can find what works best for you.

Is it OK?

As long as you are progressing normally and having an uneventful pregnancy, you should be OK to have sex as often as you would like while you are pregnant. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should feel free to have sex while you are pregnant.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Libido?

Some people feel they have an increase sex drive during pregnancy, while others have a reduced libido. There are a lot of hormonal changes going on in your body, so that affects how you feel. 

For some women, the desire to have sex comes in waves during pregnancy. Early in the pregnancy you may be too sick or tired to do anything, but when the second trimester comes around, you may feel more up to having sex. Then the third trimester comes along and makes you feel tired or too uncomfortable to have sex. All women are affected in a different way, so listen to your body and talk to your partner about how you are feeling. 

Can Sex Cause a Miscarriage?

As long as you are having a normal pregnancy, no. Any early miscarriage can happen for many reasons, such as a chromosomal abnormality or other issue with the baby. It's not something that you did or didn't do in those cases. 

Does Sex Harm the Baby?

Your baby is protected by your uterus and the fluids surrounding him. Sex does not harm the baby.

What About Positions?

As long as you are comfortable, it doesn't matter. As you progress further into your pregnancy you may find certain positions, such as lying on your back,  uncomfortable. Let your body be your guide. If something doesn't feel right, change what you are doing.

Should We Use a Condom?

There are risks of infection if your partner has a sexually transmitted disease, you aren't in a monogamous relationship, or you have sex with a new partner during your pregnancy. These cases would warrant the use of a condom. 

Can I go Into Labor?

Orgasms are not likely to cause labor, even in the late stages of pregnancy. 

Are There Times Sex is Off Limits?

Women progressing normally through pregnancy should be OK to remain sexually active. There are some risk factors to keep in mind. Your doctor might warn against sex if you:

  • have a history of preterm labor or birth
  • have vaginal bleeding
  • are leaking amniotic fluid
  • have a incompetent cervix
  • have a placenta that is covering your cervix (placenta previa)

What if I Don't Want to Have Sex?

That is OK. Some women don't have much of a libido during pregnancy. Be sure to talk to your partner about your changing body image, or other reasons you may not want to have sex. 

What are Alternatives?

If you aren't feeling up to having sex, you have other options for intimacy. Kissing, cuddling, massage, or oral sex. If you participate in oral sex, be sure that your partner does not blow air into your vagina. This can lead to an air bubble which can cause harm to you or your baby.

What About After Birth?

After you have the baby, you will have a waiting period, usually four to six weeks, where you should avoid having sex. Your body will need time to heal. You will have a checkup a few weeks after delivery. Your doctor will assess any incisions or tears and your basic emotional state at this appointment. Likely, you will get the go ahead to resume normal sexual activities. 

Keep in mind that you just went through a pretty big event, and it may take some time to get back to normal. You will be sore, tired, and emotional for a few weeks. Its equally important that you are physically and emotionally ready for sex.

Still have questions? New patients are welcome to schedule an appointment with a women's health specialist using our convenient online form.

Topics: Maternity Care