Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy? Are there times when sex should be avoided? Can your orgasm trigger premature labor? Here’s what you need to know.
So you’re pregnant (congratulations!) and you’re wondering if you can continue to have sex during pregnancy as you normally do. And what about sex after pregnancy?
Read on, mama. Read on.
Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?
Most women who are healthy and low risk can continue to have sex during pregnancy without worry. The strong muscles of the uterine wall and the amniotic sac protect baby very well. The thick mucus plug that covers your cervix during pregnancy also protects the baby from infection.
Sex in early pregnancy
Some expectant parents worry that sex during pregnancy, particularly the first trimester, might cause a miscarriage. Early miscarriages are usually because of a chromosomal abnormality in baby or hormonal imbalances in mom, and having sex or performing other normal behaviors won’t prevent this.
Keep in mind, some mamas won’t even want sex in first trimester due to nausea, morning sickness and intense fatigue. This will most likely pass and you will resume to your normal sex life in the “magic middle” of pregnancy. Talk to your partner to find ways to meet intimacy needs during this time.
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Sex in late pregnancy
With a bigger belly, sex can become more difficult late in the third trimester. Get creative with positions or find other ways to be intimate and close to your partner.
Keep in mind that semen contains prostaglandins, which are known to soften the cervix. Softening the cervix “ripens” and opens it, when, and only when, all biological factors are ready for delivery in normal, low-risk pregnancies. So don’t worry that having sex will create an early labor.
Nipple stimulation can also work. The hormone Oxytocin is released during nipple stimulation. This is the same hormone used by hospitals to induce labor or during a caesarian.
These two tactics can help naturally induce a mama over 40 weeks. Of course talk to your doctor and/or midwife on what’s best for you.
Benefits of sex during pregnancy
In fact, sex during pregnancy can have many advantages:
- It can provide protection from colds. A study found that sex boosts levels of IgA, an antibody that helps boost immune response.
- Orgasms during pregnancy strengthen the pelvic floor and uterine walls, which is good for labor and faster postpartum recovery.
- Can lower your blood pressure and stress level.
- It’s a good workout. Sex can increase your heart rate and uses various muscles which burns calories.
- And increased blood flow can mean better orgasms, more orgasms, and more interest in sex.
Is it safe for my partner to give me oral sex?
Yes, we’re going there 🙂 And yes, for the most part, oral sex during pregnancy is fine. However, there are some exceptions. If your partner has oral herpes he should not give you oral sex while he has an active outbreak or at all in the third trimester (outbreak or not). If your partner is HIV positive or you are unsure of his HIV status you may want to abstain from oral sex. Though the risk of contracting HIV from oral sex is low, it is still a possibility and, if contracted, HIV can easily be passed to your baby.
And a random fact: Do not let your partner blow into your vagina. It can (very rarely) result in an air embolism, which is dangerous for both you and baby.
Is it okay to use lubrication when I’m pregnant?
Yes, but we do have a recommendation for you. We’re not crazy about conventional lube products, as they can irritate both partners. And of course, why place chemicals inside you when you’re carrying a baby?
If you’re using condoms, it’s important to use a conventional, water-based lube as opposed to an oil-based lubrication.
But if you’re pregnant and in a monogamous relationship, you’re probably not bothering with condoms. In which case, we recommend using good ol’ olive oil as a lubrication. It’s natural, healing to the skin, convenient, and works like a charm.
Can orgasms trigger premature labor?
Nope. Orgasms can cause uterine contractions but these contractions are normal and not like the ones you will feel during labor. In fact, uterine contractions after sex indicate you have a strong uterus which is very reassuring when you are going to be delivering a baby soon.
Are there times when sex should be avoided during pregnancy?
Your doctor or midwife might recommend abstaining from sex during pregnancy, also called pelvic rest, if:
- You have a history of preterm labor or premature birth
- You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical insufficiency)
- Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervix (placenta previa)
- Your membranes have ruptured or you’re leaking amniotic fluid
- Your cervix is dilated
My sex drive has changed since I got pregnant. Is this normal?
Absolutely. Due to the physical and emotional changes you’re experiencing it’s completely normal to be totally uninterested in sex during pregnancy, extra interested or anything in between. It’s also possible that you will experience all of those at different times throughout the pregnancy!
Though desire may fluctuate, many women report having more satisfying sex during pregnancy. One reason is the extra blood flow to the pelvic area which can intensify sensation and orgasm. Another might be that many women have a better self image while pregnant and find it easier to relax and enjoy sex. Yes, it’s true! Many women feel more confident with a baby bump than they did pre-pregnancy.
After the baby is born, how soon can I have sex?
Most doctors and midwives suggest waiting 6 weeks postpartum to resume having sex. Whether you had a vaginal or cesarean birth (ideally a gentle cesarean), your body needs time to heal.
During the first weeks postpartum your cervix is closing and your uterine lining is healing. The slowing and ending of the flow of lochia signals that healing has finished or is almost finished. If you didn’t have any tearing and your bleeding has stopped before 6 weeks, your doctor or midwife may give you the go ahead to resume sexual intercourse. If you did have tearing or an episiotomy, and especially if you needed stitches, you’ll want to wait until those are fully healed so you may be advised to wait until your 6 week postpartum appointment to be sure the stitches and laceration have healed.
That being said, many women aren’t ready for intercourse at 6 weeks postpartum. Some continue to feel discomfort or pain for a few months (consult your doctor if you have concerns). Though intercourse may be off limits for a short time, it’s completely safe for you to reach orgasm in other ways.
Other women just don’t feel emotionally ready for intimacy yet. The stress and exhaustion of a new baby, coupled with constant breastfeeding, can make finding time for sex or the desire for sex next to impossible. Some women need to feel like their body is their own for awhile. Keep communicating with your partner about how you’re feeling and find ways to meet each others intimacy needs in other ways for now.