Many mothers share similar concerns about pregnancy. And one common question pregnant moms usually have is this: "Do you need to avoid sex while pregnant?"
As a proud mother-to-be, you'd want your baby to be safe and healthy—and understandably so. Plus, things in the bedroom can get quite passionate and wild...
Your concerns are completely valid, and we're going to address them.
In this article, we'll explore how safe sex is during pregnancy. We'll also cover when you should avoid sex during pregnancy and how you can have sex safely with a growing tummy.
Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes, sex is safe and normal in all stages of pregnancy. Research shows very few risks of having sex while pregnant .
Your baby is well-protected by the amniotic fluid in your womb, which cushions them and shelters them from physical harm . Hence, if your doctor has not raised any striking concerns about your pregnancy, you can engage in sexual activity as you please.
Now go ahead and heave that sigh of relief!
Nonetheless, many women have concerns about pregnancy sex—one of the biggest being an increased risk of a miscarriage. If this is your greatest fear, you're not alone.
But can sex actually cause a miscarriage during pregnancy?
Well, sex is not likely a risk factor for miscarriage. Studies have shown that around 50% of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities (an abnormality in the DNA of the baby's cells)—and not because of something you did or did not do. Many other cases of miscarriages have unknown causes .
It is understandably daunting to bring this topic up. But if you have any concerns about a miscarriage, your healthcare professional can best address them.
Can Sex Induce Labour?
Research findings on this are mixed. But there are a few theories about why sex might induce labour.
The release of oxytocin could be promoted by the following [1, 4]:-
- The physical stimulation of your nipples and genitals
- Climaxing or having orgasms
- Prostaglandins released in semen (Prostaglandins are compounds made from fat that have hormone-like effects)
Oxytocin is a hormone more popularly known as the love hormone. It is an important hormone in labour and birth, and its primary function in labour is to bring on contractions. The prostaglandins in semen are also said to help with cervical ripening, a process where the cervix softens and opens before labour begins .
Despite these theories, there is limited research that sex around your due date can induce labour. But there's no harm in trying anyway as long as you have a low-risk pregnancy!
How To Have Sex Safely During Pregnancy
We understand your concerns, so we'll walk you through having safe (and fun) sex during pregnancy.
Sex Positions and Toys
During the first trimester of pregnancy, most positions should work. As long as the position feels comfortable to you, you're good to go. The same goes for any sex toys or vibrators you want to use. Just make sure they're clean!
As your little bump blossoms into a full-fledged one, though, manoeuvring around it can be tricky. It's best to avoid positions that put pressure on the belly. So the following positions may work best:
- Side-by-side spooning. This takes the pressure off your belly and back.
- Sitting on top of your partner. This allows you to control the depth of penetration.
- Lying on the edge of the bed with your feet dangling off. Your partner won't have to support their weight with their hands. And there's no risk of them putting too much pressure on your belly since they're standing or kneeling in front of you.
Experiment with your partner to find a comfortable position for both of you. Also, using lubrication may help to reduce any discomfort.
What about Oral Sex And Anal Sex?
Oral sex is safe during pregnancy as well. With such a heavy belly, why not let your partner do the work?
The important thing your partner has to remember is this: They have to be careful not to blow air into your vagina. This may lead to a condition known as venous air embolism, a rare but potentially life-threatening event .
Anal sex is safe as well. However, if you want to have vaginal sex after anal sex, be sure that you and your partner wash up well beforehand. This prevents any spread of infection-causing bacteria from the anus to the vagina. The same goes for any sex toys you use.
When Should I Avoid Sex During Pregnancy
Your doctor may advise you to avoid sex for various reasons while pregnant, including the following [1, 5]:-
- There's an increased risk of preterm labour
- Your placenta covers your cervix (opening of the womb) partially or completely, which is a condition called placenta previa
- You experience unexplained bleeding or pain during pregnancy
For the above cases, there is a lack of substantial evidence to prove that avoiding sex effectively reduces the risks of complications.
But your doctor may still recommend abstinence to ensure you get the best shot at a successful and smooth pregnancy.
How Will Pregnancy Affect My Sex Drive?
It is normal for your sex drive to fluctuate during pregnancy. In general, women may experience lower sex drive in the first trimester, an increase in the second trimester, and another reduction in libido in the final trimester .
In the first trimester, around 40% of women report lower sexual desire, and hence, sexual satisfaction .
During this stage, you're just starting to mentally, emotionally, and physically adapt to the changes during pregnancy. Due to common early pregnancy symptoms—such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, and drowsiness—it may take a lot more effort to get into the mood .
Women usually experience a greater sexual desire and interest in the second trimester.
This could be due to a reduction in physical symptoms and discomfort. You may also notice better mood, boosted self-confidence, and higher acceptance of the changes that happen during pregnancy . All these can increase your sexual urges.
Many women have reported a significant decrease in their sex drive during the third trimester .
This may be due to your bodily changes, such as a much larger baby bump. You may also be even more concerned about the well-being of your baby. Other than that, some women tend to feel insecure and less attractive in their heavily-pregnant bodies .
Remember, you're not a "bad" mom for wishing away the less-exciting bodily changes during pregnancy. And you're not a "bad" partner if sex no longer registers on your 'must-do list' like before.
Understandably, certain pregnancy changes may feel new and scary. But open communication between you and your partner (or healthcare provider) may help you better navigate the ebb and flow of your sex drive while pregnant.
Sex After Birth: Recommendations and Considerations
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there is no fixed waiting period before you can have sex after giving birth. However, many healthcare professionals recommend waiting between four to six weeks to have sex after delivery .
If you've experienced a tear during delivery, you will have to wait until the injury heals completely before having sex again .
The most common complaints about having sex after pregnancy are vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse. But these should gradually improve with time, or you can try using a lubricant .
So to sum it up, feel free to hit the sheets whenever you feel comfortable doing so—unless your doctor has given you a set time-out.
Of course, another important question is this: How soon after giving birth can you get pregnant again?
Based on the NHS, you can get pregnant as soon as three weeks after giving birth. If you want to avoid back-to-back pregnancies, it's best to use contraception when having sex, even if it's the first time after delivery .
Final Takeaway: Having Sex While Pregnant
Sex during pregnancy is generally safe. So unless your doctor has told you not to, feel free to go at it!—But of course, listen to your body and make sure you feel comfortable doing so.
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy and even after pregnancy. Your menstrual cycle and hormone levels will change from how they were before you delivered your baby.
If you're curious to see how your hormone levels change during or after pregnancy, the inne minilab can help! Through simple saliva tests, you'll be able to track your hormone levels and relate that to changes you observe in your mood and body.
In the meantime, don't fret about what you're doing "wrong" or "right" in the bedroom. Give yourself time to adjust to this new normal. And raise any concerns you may have to a trusted healthcare provider.
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