Sex during pregnancy: Here’s what you need to know…

Dr Christine Catling

Dr Christine Catling

Dr Christine Catling, a midwife for over 25 years, is the Director of Midwifery Studies at UTS. She believes research, innovation and good quality midwifery are pivotal to the well-being of mothers and young families. Christine has extensive experience in antenatal education, policy development and research, and has published on workforce issues, homebirth, vaginal birth...
Updated on Jul 09, 2024 · 4 mins read
Sex during pregnancy: Here’s what you need to know…

Let’s talk about sex, baby! Yep that thing you did to get yourself to this point…. Well, we bet you’re wondering whether you can keep having it now that you’re pregnant, right? The good news is yes, you can! But there are a few things that you should be aware of so you can stay safe but still have some fun between the sheets.

Is sex safe during pregnancy?

Sex is perfectly safe to enjoy throughout your pregnancy providing there are no complications with your pregnancy or your doctor has advised you not to.

If you have experienced bleeding your doctor may advise you to abstain for some or all of the remainder of your pregnancy. And once your waters have broken it is not advisable to have sex (although by that point we’re not sure you’d be wanting to anyway)

Will sex harm the baby?

Your baby is well protected inside your uterus and inside its sac of amniotic fluid, so there is no evidence to suggest that this can harm the baby. The penis does not go beyond the vagina during sex and the cervix is sealed with the mucous plug to help avoid infection.

Is there anything you should avoid?

It is advisable (and often recommended by your doctor) that you practice gentle sex, so nothing too rough or vigorous.

As the pregnancy progresses you will probably also need to change up what positions work best – and are possible with your growing bump. Have a little fun exploring new positions that you might not have tried before and make sure you let your partner know if you feel any pain or discomfort and stop immediately.

Orgasms can also bring on Braxton Hicks contractions (as can nipple stimulation), which see your uterus go hard and tighten. There is no need to worry if this happens, but if they are painful try changing positions or stop and relax for a few moments while they pass.

Is oral sex safe during pregnancy?

Oral sex is generally considered safe, and can be a good alternative if intercourse is not working for you or deemed risky due to complications.

You do however want to avoid it if your partner has an open cold sore.

Are there any benefits to sex during pregnancy?

The main benefit to sex is to help maintain a loving, intimate connection with your partner as well as being a great stress reliever and good for relaxation.

Some old wives tales will have you believe that sex and/or an orgasm can help bring on labour (although we must note that there is no research evidence that says it’s effective).

What if I don’t feel like having sex?

It’s very common for pregnancy to mess with your sex drive – either deplete it completely or in some cases, enhance it.

If you do not feel like having sex that is completely normal (your hormones are busy working on other things right now and chances are you’re pretty darn tired).

Explain to your partner that it is the pregnancy and not them, and find other ways to be intimate, by sharing a romantic meal, having a massage or a bath together.

Will sex feel different during pregnancy?

Sex may feel different during pregnancy, with increased or decreased sensitivity and some women find it hard to orgasm. But it’s important to note some women find it’s never better.

If you are struggling to enjoy it, know that this is totally normal and should return once you have had the baby (and recovered). Some women report it can take up to a year to properly feel like themselves sexually again.

If you and your partner have any worries or concerns following birth, it would be beneficial to seek help whether through your GP or a women’s health physio.

What if my partner doesn’t want to have sex with me?

Some men find they lose their sex drive when their partner is pregnant, often due to fear of harming the baby or stress/anxiety over parenthood itself.

Speak with your partner about this and discuss positions or other forms of intimacy that would make you both feel comfortable – and perhaps bring it up at your next doctor’s appointment so your doctor can assure your partner it is perfectly safe.

When should I call my doctor?

If you do have any bleeding after sex, or severe cramping that does not go away after a short amount of time – then give your doctor a call.

You should also ensure you always practice safe sex and if you are concerned you might have contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) then contact your doctor immediately.

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