Having sex to get pregnant is fun.
But once you’ve achieved the pregnancy part, many new questions might be popping into your head.
Can you have sex while pregnant? Is it safe for the baby? What positions are ok?
We answer 13 of the most common questions related to having sex during pregnancy.
#1: Is sex good during pregnancy?
Yes! Sex during pregnancy feels good and is good for you.
Unless your health care provider has recommended pelvic rest for any reason, you should let your sex drive do its job.
Sex during pregnancy is not only safe but highly beneficial for you, for your partner, and also your baby. Having a regular flow of feel-good hormones (oxytocin, endorphins, prostaglandins) throughout pregnancy ensures you feel great and helps prime those uterine muscles.
Increased blood flow to your uterus has a positive impact on your baby, too. The baby will receive plenty of oxygen and nutrients, promoting healthy development in the womb.
#2: Sex during first 3 months of pregnancy
Can you have sex while pregnant in the first trimester? It’s normal to worry about your pregnancy, especially in the first trimester when the baby’s main development takes place.
Unless your healthcare provider has recommended complete pelvic rest (which means nothing enters the vagina), sex during the first trimester is perfectly safe.
You might start experiencing pregnancy symptoms that make you feel less like having sex during pregnancy. First-trimester fatigue and morning sickness can definitely be sex drive killers.
If you do happen to feel in the mood for sex, remember uterine contractions caused by orgasm are normal. In fact, your uterus is contracting all the time; orgasm simply enhances them.
#3: Can sex cause a miscarriage?
The thought of doing something that might lead to a miscarriage is daunting and worrisome to most pregnant women, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. Can you have sex while pregnant and low risk for miscarriage?
If you’re low risk for miscarriage, remember sex is safe for you unless advised otherwise by your doctor or midwife.
#4: Is it safe to have hard sex in early pregnancy?
Your intuition plays a very important role when it comes to sex during pregnancy. If you want to have sex and it feels good to you, then whatever you choose is perfectly safe: anal or oral sex, the use of sex toys … do whatever takes your fancy.
Don’t worry that you have to stick to the missionary position because you’re pregnant. Just make sure you have good lubrication before getting rough.
You might find Pregnancy Sex Positions – 7 Ideas For Pregnant Couples has helpful tips.
#5: Is it bad to have too much sex while pregnant?
We can’t know what ‘too much pregnancy sex’ really means, as it varies from one couple to another. If you’re asking yourself this question, let me congratulate you and your partner on your rich, active sex life.
There isn’t a limit on the amount of sex you can have – whether it’s with your partner or on your own.
When you enjoy sex, your brain is filled with hormones that make you happy. These hormones travel in your blood and cross the placenta, so your baby also benefits from their action – in any trimester.
#6: What happens to the sperm when a woman is already pregnant?
We’ll start by explaining the difference between sperm and semen, as we sometimes tend to confuse the terms.
It’s not difficult to see why: they both come from the same place, both words have five letters and start with the letter ‘S’, and ‘E’ is the only vowel in both words! Sperm is part of semen but not the other way round.
A sperm refers to each individual male reproductive cell. (The plural is also ‘sperm’) It’s the smallest human cell; the egg is the biggest, in case you are wondering.
Semen is what comes out of the penis with each ejaculation. Semen is made up of many sperm and the seminal liquid that helps with transportation of the sperm.
The uterus has only one entrance and that’s through the cervix. Once pregnancy has been achieved, the mucus plug starts its service by closing access to the uterus to protect your growing baby from bacteria. The mucus plug keeps regenerating as pregnancy progresses.
Most of the semen comes out of the vagina right after sex. This discharge is more obvious when women get in an upright position. When the cervix is closed most of the semen will just come out as it did before the woman was pregnant.
#7: Is sperm good for the baby during pregnancy?
We’ve just seen how the entrance to the uterus is closed. Even in the event a few sperm make it through the cervix, they’d never make contact with the amniotic fluid as the amniotic sac also acts as a barrier.
This doesn’t mean semen is unsafe during pregnancy. It’s full of prostaglandins which are the hormones in charge of vasodilation in pregnancy. Vasodilation is the ability of the blood vessels to dilate. It helps your pregnant body deal much better with increased blood flow and volume. It also helps with the regulation of blood pressure and placental circulation (the flow of blood through the placenta).
Prostaglandins also help with the ripening of the cervix, which contributes to the triggering of labor. You might wonder whether semen can provoke preterm labor.
In fact, the receptors that prostaglandins bind to aren’t active until the end of the third trimester, when the baby is fully developed and the risk of preterm labor has passed.
#8: When to stop sex during pregnancy
You should never have sex if you don’t feel like it. As pregnancy advances or your hormones change, pregnancy sex might not be appealing to you, and that’s okay.
You should stop having sex during pregnancy if you’re experiencing pain. Pain is a very effective way our body communicates with us. If you’re having sex and you experience pain, the last thing you want to do is to ignore this warning.
Your care provider might advise pelvic rest during pregnancy.
There are several reasons why your ob-gyn, midwife, or doctor could suggest you refrain from having sex:
Risk of miscarriage
If there’s a high risk of miscarriage, refraining from having sex is the most important recommendation. If you’ve been told your pregnancy is at risk, it’s likely sex is the last thing on your mind.
Apart from pelvic rest, try to get your oxytocin flowing with happy memories, wishful thoughts, and romantic moments with your partner. This will not only strengthen your relationship but it will also give your pregnancy the best chance to continue.
If you find very small amounts of fresh blood after having sex, it could be because the cervix is being irritated from sexual friction. If the bleeding increases or doesn’t stop in a short while, seek help from your midwife or doctor, who can advise you what to do.
The most worrying part of bleeding during pregnancy is that it might come from the placenta. It could be placental abruption when a small part becomes detached from the uterine wall.
Or it could be placenta previa, which means the placenta is close to, or over, the cervix instead of in the highest part of the uterus. If the bleeding is caused by placenta previa prompt action is vital, to avoid complications.
Active sexually transmitted infection
Sexually transmitted infections are checked for in the first blood test done during pregnancy, and solutions are offered if the results are positive. Some sexually transmitted infections can be very damaging to the baby if the birth happens while the infections are active. Although bacterial infections – for example, gonorrhea – are easily treated, some viral diseases, such as herpes, will stay and flourish when bodily defenses are low.
If oral or genital herpes is active in one or both partners, avoid kissing and refrain from oral sex until herpes has receded.
Rupture of the amniotic sac
If your waters have broken before labor has started, it’s recommended you don’t introduce anything in the vagina. This is the best way to minimize the risk of infection. This is especially important if you’re going to wait until labor starts on its own, or if it’s preterm labor.
If you’ve been given a time frame to go into labor before your doctor starts a medical induction with synthetic oxytocin, you might want to try other methods to stimulate uterine contractions.
Oral sex or masturbation might be the last thing on your mind but you should discuss these methods with your care provider.
Nipple stimulation is another method women find to be successful in getting contractions started.
#9: Can unborn babies sense their father?
Sometimes, especially from the time, your belly starts to show, your partner might be a bit wary about having sex in pregnancy, as he might feel the little one can sense what’s going on.
Although babies will benefit from the rush of love hormones triggered by having sex, they won’t feel anything or know what’s actually happening.
#10: Does sex feel different during pregnancy?
Some women feel more relaxed during pregnancy, especially in the second trimester when the morning sickness has subsided and the belly is not too big.
Some may feel sexier or more aroused. This could be due to hormones, or perhaps the fact they can’t get pregnant makes them feel less inhibited.
If this is the case for you, take the opportunity to explore your sexuality in your relationship. Try different sex positions during pregnancy as well, to find what’s most comfortable for you.
#11: Can I breastfeed my husband during pregnancy?
Colostrum production starts from 16 weeks of pregnancy and some women leak colostrum from the third trimester without any breast manipulation.
It’s very possible for your partner to have a taste of your milk. In some cultures, it’s an honor to be gifted breast milk for adult consumption. However, if your partner doesn’t feel the same way about it that’s also ok.
#12: Painful sex during pregnancy
There are different reasons why sex can be painful during pregnancy.
Your uterus might feel uncomfortable and sometimes it needs a bit of rest. Your cervix is doing a great job but also supporting a lot of weight and sometimes it swells up.
You might also have a full bladder or even a urinary tract infection. Infections aren’t always accompanied by pain, so keep an eye out next time you pee.
Signs of a UTI are:
- A very small flow that doesn’t compare with the urgent feeling you have
- Cloudy, dark, foul-smelling or bloody urine
- Burning sensation when urinating
- You might also feel the constant need to pass urine.
If you have any suspicions about the possibility of an infection, get in touch with your midwife or doctor and have it checked. Unchecked urinary tract infections are linked to an increased risk of complications such as preterm labor.
Like so many changes that happen during pregnancy, pain during sex might just be due to a specific position. Try to change it and see if there is an improvement. Any position where you are in control of the depth of penetration is preferable if you’re experiencing any kind of discomfort.
#13: Consequences of not having sex during pregnancy
We’ve discussed how beneficial it is to have sex during pregnancy and answered the question ‘can you have sex while pregnant?’.
If for any reason your sex drive has taken a back seat, if your doctor has recommended pelvic rest, or if you don’t have a sexual partner, you can still help those happy hormones flow to your baby by talking and singing to him.
A happy mother means a happy baby!