Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?

pregnant woman with husband
by Margo Hill

When is having sex during pregnancy risky and when can you just relax and enjoy it? Whether it's finding the safest pregnancy sex positions or what you can expect after having sex during pregnancy, we've got the answers.

When It May Be Risky

Many women and their partners may wonder: Is sex during pregnancy really safe? Luckily, for the vast majority of women, sex right up until their due date is perfectly safe -- though it may become uncomfortable as the months pass.

In some high-risk cases, however, sex during pregnancy can be risky. Many doctors recommend that women at risk for preterm labor avoid pregnancy sex because semen contains substances that can cause the uterus to contract. Your doctor or midwife will let you know if you need to be concerned.

Having Sex During Pregnancy May Be Risky If:
  • Your practitioner has counseled against it for any reason.
  • You have unexplained bleeding and a history of premature birth or labor.
  • You have placenta previa, a condition where a portion of the placenta covers the cervix.
  • Your water has broken.
  • You are currently experiencing bleeding.
  • You're in the last trimester, carrying multiples.

If you fall into one of the above risk categories, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife to clarify the length of time that intercourse should be restricted and any other specifics, such as avoiding orgasm. And always call your practitioner if you experience a discharge of bright-red blood after sex (especially if it's accompanied by fever), or any leaking fluid.

What You May Experience After Intercourse

You may feel your uterus contract or increased fetal activity after orgasm. In fact, uterine contractions can last for up to 30 minutes after intercourse for some women. These contractions and movements are perfectly normal and you don't need to worry about them affecting the baby.

Due to increased blood volume and engorgement, your cervix may bleed slightly after sex during pregnancy. So don't worry if you see a bit of blood, particularly in the last trimester.

Sex in the Last Trimester

As long as your pregnancy has progressed normally, you should still be able to have sex in your last months, provided you're not carrying multiples. Despite all the myths, no link has been established between preterm labor and sex in the last trimester. Lying flat on your back at this late stage in pregnancy, though, is not a good idea. Talk to your doctor or midwife about positions that are still safe.

Finally, once your water breaks you should not engage in intercourse or insert anything into the vagina, as this could cause infection.

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