Pregnancy Sex: Everything you Need to know

Pregnancy sex is one of those topics many people don’t talk about, whether you are trying to conceive, pregnant already or in the postpartum stage chances are questions have cropped up about what is and isn’t normal about sex during pregnancy.

Sex in general isn’t a topic everyone finds comfortable to discuss, so with that in mind I promise I won’t get too graphic. But I am going to answer as many questions as I can cause chances are I had them too!

Is Pregnancy Sex Safe?

Unless your doctor or midwife has advised you to avoid sex during pregnancy it’s perfectly safe.

There are some beliefs out there that sexual activity or orgasm might damage the baby, or increase the chance of a miscarriage, or induce early labor. But in a healthy pregnancy, this simply isn’t true.

Does the Baby Know?

This is likely the biggest question that gets asked about sex and pregnancy.

The truth is your baby is well protected by an absolutely amazing uterus with strong muscles, amniotic fluid for cushioning and a mucus plug that provides a barrier for infections and foreign objects.

Chances are they don’t notice anything more than some gentle rocking that may just put them to sleep.

Unless of course, you put too much pressure on Mamma’s tummy, then they may be unhappy due to being squished.

baby inside the uterus showing the uterin wall/muscle around it

Can Sex Trigger Labor?

There are a lot of conflicting messages out there about this, and it can be hard to know who to listen to. Especially when so many cite sex as a “natural labor inducer“.

From my discussion with my Midwife, it was clear that the main component to using sex for induction is the Oxytocin released during an orgasm which is part of the hormone cocktail that kick starts (and maintains) labor; but ONLY IF BABY IS ALREADY READY TO BE BORN.

The second component to that was the prostaglandins in semen (ie your man’s swimmers hitting your cervix) may help in inducing labor for OVER DUE babies.

But the general consensus is from the studies that have shown that vaginal sex during a healthy pregnancy has no links to increased risks of preterm labor or premature birth.

It is however possible that penetration or an orgasm could induce Braxton Hicks late in pregnancy.

Braxton Hicks are mild contractions that some women experience towards the end of their pregnancy. However, these contractions do not mean labor has started nor will they start labor. They are more of a “practice run” or your body getting used to using the muscles it needs during labor, and should not be a concern.

However it is worth it to note that the contractions of an orgasm are not the same as the contractions of labor.

Anal Sex During Pregnancy

This one is likely to be more uncomfortable than harmful. But it is safe for the baby, and if the pregnant woman has hemorrhoids it’s likely not going to be enjoyable for the woman.

Also a safety note here, never follow anal sex with vaginal sex as this could cause bacteria to spread from the anus into the vagina and result in infection.

Oral Sex During Pregnancy

Oral sex like vaginal sex is safe to continue throughout pregnancy.

There are a few caveats here though,

If your partner has a cold sore (aka oral herpes) or feels one erupting, or if you are in the third trimester and your partner has ever had a cold sore. Even if your man doesn’t have symptoms you could still get infected and you would then need a c-section to avoid infecting baby.

However, you should avoid blowing air into the pregnant woman’s vagina as that can cause an air embolism, which is basically a bubble blocking a blood vessel. It’s rare that blowing air could cause an air embolism but it could be life-threatening for both the woman and the baby if one occurs.

If you are the “giver” and your partner is STD free, it’s perfectly safe as well, and ok to swallow if that’s your thing.

an assortment of sex toys

What about “toys”?

Using things like lube or toys like dildos and vibrators are perfectly safe. Just don’t push anything too deep or too hard into your vagina, basically if it hurts stop. We don’t want to injure the cervix or vagina in the pursuit of fun.

Also, make sure the toys are kept clean to prevent infection.

Safe Positions During Pregnancy Sex

In the early stages of pregnancy before your bump starts to grow chances are the positions that worked for you before will keep working, so have at it.

And keep the lines of communication open as there are changes happening in your body that will likely affect your experience. The fun here is in playing around and seeing how the pregnancy can enhance your enjoyment at this point.

As a woman’s pregnant belly grows it is best not to put pressure on the belly, positions like missionary are not only more challenging with a larger tummy but also can put pressure on internal organs of the woman or even major arteries.

It is also a good idea to avoid positions where Mamma is flat on her back. This can put pressure from the growing baby onto major blood vessels if you feel dizzy change positions.

Most pregnant women also feel more comfortable when using positions where she can control the depth and speed of penetration such as woman on top, or side-by-side spooning.

Sex Drive During Pregnancy

There really isn’t a typical sex drive response during pregnancy, some women get really horny, others lose their drive entirely, still others see no noticeable change.

An increase in blood flow and hormones to a woman’s genitals (usually in the second trimester) may increase the sex drive.

Or with the fluctuating hormones, and body changes that can be uncomfortable, added to decreased energy levels and possible aches and pains may completely kill off your drive.

Partner’s Sex Drive During Pregnancy

While many men find their pregnant partner more attractive, others may not react at all. Sometimes this is a result of seeing your belly grow, or your boobs, or that happy pregnancy glow that we all love to see.

Some may also worry about the safety of the baby and use the excuse “but there is a baby there” even when they are interested, simply because they worry about both of you.

Most of what causes a change in sex drive is mental and emotional, rather than physiological

Bruce Rosenzweig, MD, director of urogynecology at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago.

While conflicting levels of sex drive can make any relationship challenging, during pregnancy especially it is best to keep the lines of communication open and that both partners are comfortable with any activity.

couple under comforter with the tops of their heads poking out while they smile

How is Pregnancy Sex Different?

Honestly, just like non-pregnancy sex, this varies a bit from woman to woman. However, the biggest thing I’ve heard is that everything is more sensitive in general.

Due to the changes in your body things like increased blood flow everywhere will make your nerves more sensitive to … well … everything.

So as your tummy grows, and your boobs balloon all that stretched skin will feel more sensitive. And that can lead to more orgasms, or push you farther into over stimulation faster.

There is a chance that you will feel a lot more lubrication naturally, which could make it feel like a less “tight” fit.

There is also a chance that you may have more tightness in your pelvic floor as your body adapts to the changes in your body. Depending on how tight things get you may even find penetration painful. If that is the case make sure to check out your local Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist for some help. They could assess what if anything could help your muscles relax more.

Erotic Dreams

Yes, these are a thing for some women, and if you are having them chances are you could be waking up to “finish things” at various points too… bonus for your Man.

Benefits of Sex During Pregnancy

Sex during pregnancy can be a lot of fun for both parties, but beyond that, there are some benefits that have been observed as well like:

Could be More Fun

If you have been trying to get pregnant for a while seeing that positive test result just took the pressure off. This means you can relax and enjoy each other without all the worry that has been going on in the back of your mind.

Basically, it is no longer a chore from working overtime to get pregnant. Now it can be all fun and games again 😀

It also goes the other way if you have been avoiding getting pregnant for most of your sex life, that particular boat has sailed so you may as well make the most of the fun you can have since you can’t get pregnant again anyway.

Pregnancy Sex Could Help Keep you Fit

ok, sex does burn some calories, and depending on how active you are and what positions you use will affect how many. Women can burn around 69 calories and men 100 calories per 25 minutes.

Could Boost your Immune System

Some studies have found that sex increases certain antibodies which help keep colds and other infections under control. As your body is now focused on growing and protecting your baby this will help boost the immune response it already has.

two pairs of legs intertwined on a bed

Pregnancy Sex Could Include Better/More Orgasms

all that extra blood flow to the genitals could mean an increase in the number of orgasms AND the strength of orgasms for pregnant women.

Could Increase your Happiness

On the topic of orgasms, they release this happy hormone cocktail of endorphins. This helps Mamma and baby feel more relaxed and happy.

Pregnancy Sex Could Improve your Bond with your Partner

The happy cocktail hormone that gets released during orgasm also includes hormones that help you feel more connected or bonded to the people around you. So chances are if that’s your guy you’re getting an extra boost of “I love him” as he sends you over the edge.

The fact of the matter is that many couples are encouraged to continue with their sex lives,

When to Avoid Pregnancy Sex

There are a number of reasons why a midwife or doctor may advise you to avoid sex during pregnancy. If you have experienced any of the following it is also good to check with your care provider for their feedback:

  • you’ve been told “no” by your care provider
  • pregnancy with multiples
  • placenta previa (placenta partially or totally covers the cervix)
  • placenta abruption (placenta separates from the uterus)
  • cervical incompetence (the cervix opens early)
  • history of preterm labor
  • substantial blood loss or unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • amniotic fluid leak
  • waters have broken (increases risk of infection)
  • cervix dilates prematurely

Keep in mind that if you are advised to avoid sex that could include anything involving orgasms or arousal, not just intercourse.

Pregnancy does not protect you from STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) like HIV, herpes, chlamydia or genital warts and these kinds of infections can also affect your baby. So if you are not 100% sure of your partner’s sexual history use a condom.

red condom on top of foil wraper

When to Call your Care Provider

In a healthy pregnancy, sex is not linked to any risks to Mamma or baby. But if you experience any unusual pain or bleeding during pregnancy (sex-related or not) you need to call your Doctor or Midwife right away.

Cramping After Pregnancy Sex

Both your orgasm and the prostaglandins in semen can cause uterine contractions which may result in mild cramping for an hour or two after sex.

It’s fairly common and some women notice it when others do not. If you notice it, put your feet up and drink three large glasses of water. If the cramping gets worse call your Midwife or Doctor.

Bleeding After Pregnancy Sex

The same goes for spotting, an increase in blood flow makes blood vessels more fragile on the cervix surface. Which means there may be some bleeding if your partner touched it with his penis or a toy. However menstrual-period-type bleeding should be checked by your Doctor or Midwife ASAP so give them a call.

Discharge After Pregnancy Sex

You should call your care provider if there’s fluid discharge, your waters may have broken or could be leaking which increases the risk of infection.

While the above situations could happen they are not commonly a concern. However at any time if you feel concern or need clarification you should call your doctor or Midwife.

In the meantime, if there is no medical reason to stop enjoying yourselves in the bedroom (or anywhere else) feel free to make like bunnies and enjoy all the changes happening along the way.

You have sex to get pregnant, but then the question arrises, can we still have sex WHILE pregnant?  What will the baby think?  This & more questions answered