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What’s Safe About Sex During Pregnancy?

By Vicki Aaberg, PhD, BSN, RNC

What’s Safe About Sex During Pregnancy?

“Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?” As nurses, we hear this question all of the time.

Now that you’re pregnant, you and your partner may be worried about sexual intimacy and whether it can harm your pregnancy or baby. Rest assured this is a natural concern. The good news is that most women have sex during pregnancy.

Everything that’s great about sex, arousal, intercourse and orgasm, is safe for you and baby unless there are any risks with your pregnancy. Baby is well cushioned by your tissues and amniotic fluid. Simple activities like walking or doing laundry likely jostle baby more than intercourse.

There are circumstances, however, when sex is off-limits in pregnancy, such as:

  • If you’ve had past miscarriages, preterm labor or bleeding in pregnancy
  • After your water breaks as participating in penetration could increase the risk of an infection
  • Sex with a partner who has an active or recently diagnosed sexually transmitted infection

Be direct with your questions; ask specifically: “Is there anything about sex that I should avoid during pregnancy? Is oral sex, penetration or orgasm ok? Is there anything off-limits?” Your healthcare provider might advise that limitations around penetration mean nothing should go in your vagina, like a finger or penis. Limitations around orgasm may mean no intercourse, masturbation or any activity that brings you to orgasm.

Will I want to have sex during pregnancy?

You may not feel like having sex if, like many women, you have nausea and fatigue early on. Breast tenderness may make breast or nipple stimulation uncomfortable (but this may also be more pleasurable than normal). In the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, you’re more likely to experience heartburn, excess gas and backache, all of which may make it difficult to find an enjoyable and comfortable way to have sex.

As you experience a range of emotions in pregnancy, your interests in sex will change too. You may fear labor or worry about being a good parent. You may feel like your priorities have shifted and sex has taken a back seat—especially if it’s beginning to sink in that you will be responsible for the health, development and safety of this child for the next 18 years! All of these physical and emotional reactions to pregnancy are normal and can affect your sexual desire.

What changes should I expect?

You and your partner may need to find different positions as your growing belly is increasingly in the way. Try side-lying, spooning or woman-on-top. Use a water-based lubricant for comfort, if necessary. Oral sex is OK in pregnancy, but your partner should never blow air into your vagina; this could cause an air embolism that could be dangerous for you and baby.

Warning signs with sex during pregnancy

You may notice vaginal spotting after intercourse, and this is typically normal. If the bleeding is bright red or anything more than a small amount, or you think you might be leaking amniotic fluid, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible. You may also experience contraction-like cramps. This is normal, too, but notify your healthcare provider if these are painful or don’t go away.

It’s natural to have concerns about sex during pregnancy. My advice is to relax and enjoy this time with your partner. There is much permission-giving that is needed around sexuality, especially during pregnancy—permission that it is safe to have sex and permission to say no if you don’t feel like it. Unless there are any restrictions, do what feels good. Sex is an important way we connect with our partners and experience pleasure. Relax and have fun!

 

Create Intimacy Without Sex
There are many non-sexual ways to show your love and care for your partner. Consider taking a bath together, sharing a massage or foot rub, cuddling and kissing, and sharing your hopes and dreams for your baby. Take advantage of other ways to stay physically close during this pregnancy.
Two important things about sex in pregnancy :
·       Your partner needs to know how and what you’re feeling, so share what’s in your heart. Describe your physical symptoms and feel free to simply say you just don’t feel very sexy at the moment
·       It’s ok if you don’t feel like having sex. Simply say that and leave it at that

 


Related Articles

Sex during pregnancy  Is Sex Okay During High Risk Pregnancy

Cuddlign is healthier for relationships than sex Cuddling is healthier for relationships than sex

 

Vicki Aaberg, PhD, BSN, RNC, is an assistant professor at Seattle Pacific University.


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