A lot of couples – especially the men in the relationship – are confused about whether having sex while pregnant is completely safe. This is due to some persistent myths, such as that the child could be injured during penetration. Let’s sound the all-clear: the unborn child will never reach for the penis, and it will not suffer any damage. A woman’s abdomen is strong enough to protect the child adequately.
Having sex is an essential part of any romantic relationship. There is no need to forego the act of love even during pregnancy. The majority of pregnant women can safely continue to have sexual intercourse with their partners. But you will notice some changes as an expectant mother. Most likely, your sex drive may have changed a lot. And due to your larger belly, some positions will no longer feel comfortable.
You will certainly also have many questions about if sex is even allowed during pregnancy, whether bleeding after intercourse is normal, as well as when you will be ready for sex again after giving birth. We will try to answer the most important questions in our ultimate guide about having sex while pregnant. In case you are unsure about some points or need more information, it is best to consult your doctor.
Can you have sex while pregnant?
Provided you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, having sexual intercourse is usually safe for you. You can have sex and it can be a loving and beautiful act with your partner even during pregnancy. Nevertheless, you should clarify with your doctor in advance whether sex is allowed for you during pregnancy. Only if there are complications or you already had some in your previous pregnancy, you may need to forgo sex.
However, some pregnant women do not feel good about having sex while pregnant. Many have a feeling as if a third person is in the bed with them or as if their child is “watching.” Fear not: the rocking of you and your partner has very likely rocked your baby to sleep; therefore, you can relax and may enjoy sex.
Sexual intercourse and orgasms also will not harm your baby; your amniotic fluid and the muscles of your uterus will protect it. In the same way, the mucus plug that keeps the cervix closed makes sure that your baby does not get infections.
How normal is it for your sex drive to change during pregnancy?
Do you find that sex is the last thing you are thinking about right now? Or are you even unable to think about anything else? Either scenario is quite normal during pregnancy. During this time, your libido may greatly fluctuate. There are many factors that influence your desire and need for sexual intimacy: hormone levels rising and falling, the physical changes in your body, and, of course, your emotions.
Below we look at how these aspects can affect your sex drive during the different trimesters:
As a result of the changes in your body, as well as pregnancy hormones, during the first trimester, you may feel a bit more lustful. On the flip side, your sexual desire might also tend to decrease due to morning sickness, severe fatigue, more sensitive or sore breasts, and excessive urination.
Luckily, some of the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms of the first trimester fade away in the second. The size of your belly is not yet so large that certain sex positions will be uncomfortable for you. Moreover, the increased blood flow to your breasts and your pelvic area may increase your sensation of pleasure. Because of this, you may feel a greater sex drive during this time.
However, keep in mind that every woman is different. The way you feel emotionally and physically, no matter what time of your pregnancy, will have an impact on your libido. This is perfectly normal and natural.
With the growth of your belly, some positions won’t feel as comfortable for you. And because you’re now preparing to give birth, you will likely no longer feel like having sex. In addition, other discomforts such as back pain and weight gain may decrease your desire. Do not forget that there are other ways to be intimate with your partner. During this time, you may prefer to talk about your feelings, cuddle, or kiss.
In which circumstances should you avoid having sex while pregnant?
Only your doctor will be able to answer this question for you. If any of the following apply to you, however, having sex while pregnant is generally not advised:
- Last pregnancy, you had a premature birth or you are now showing signs of early labor.
- You have something called cervical weakness, which may cause your cervix to open too early in pregnancy; increasing the risk of preterm labor.
- You have placenta praevia – when this happens, the placenta partially or completely covers the birth canal.
- Your amniotic sac has broken – after this, nothing should be inserted into the vagina.
- There is bleeding after sex (consult your doctor quickly if you lose more than a few drops of blood).
- Have a partner who has a communicable STD. From a medical point of view, even if you use a condom, it is advised to abstain from sex in this case. You can talk to your doctor about this as well.
- You are pregnant with twins, triplets or multiples.
Which symptoms are worth contacting the doctor about?
In case you notice heavy bleeding after sex, your amniotic fluid leaks, or you start experiencing severe pain or cramps, immediately contact your doctor or go to the nearest women’s clinic.
While you are having an orgasm, your uterus contracts – which may feel a little uncomfortable, however, it is not a sign of labor. You may experience mild cramping or spotting (a few drops of blood) during sex while pregnant and it is normal. In case you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor and ensure that it is not something serious.
Is it possible that sex while pregnant and orgasms cause early labor?
Contractions of the uterus can be triggered by orgasms and natural substances in semen. Nevertheless, sex while pregnant is not believed to trigger preterm labor. But if you are at increased risk for preterm labor, the best thing to do is to ask your doctor if sex during pregnancy is allowed for you.
There are rumors that sexual intercourse promotes the induction of labor. But experts disagree: according to them, this is very unlikely – even if you are about to give birth.
Is it better to use a condom during pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, you can not get pregnant again, nevertheless, it is recommended to use a condom. Using contraception protects you from STDs – if your partner is infected, the disease can be transmitted to you. Having an STD could cause complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Consult with your doctor about this to be sure what is best for your situation.
What sex positions are best during pregnancy?
Finding a comfortable position is important to keep sex while pregnant fun. When a familiar position no longer feels good for you or your partner, give something else a try. Positions that worked well in the first trimester are often no longer a good fit as your belly gets bigger in the third trimester.
Should you have any doubts about which sex positions are proper during pregnancy, be sure to consult your doctor. In addition, we should mention at this point that your vagina may feel a bit dry because of the hormonal changes; a water-based lubricant can help with sex in this case.
How does your sex life change during pregnancy?
As you experience many physical, hormonal and emotional changes due to pregnancy, your partner will need to learn to adjust as well. This may impact both of their sex lives. For this reason, it is very important that you talk to each other about your sexual needs and feelings.
Having open communication with your partner will create closeness and security. A doctor’s advice on whether, how much and until when sex is permitted for her during pregnancy can further reassure you and your partner. However, don’t overlook the fact that there are other ways to be intimate with each other. You can just as easily give each other pampering massages, caresses and loving kisses.
How long should you avoid sex after giving birth?
After the birth – regardless of whether vaginal or with the help of cesarean delivery – your body needs time to recover. In general, there is no ban on sex, but it is advised to wait at least four to six weeks after giving birth before engaging in sexual intercourse. During this period, if you gave birth vaginally, your cervix can close and any tears or wounds in the perineal area can heal.
In case your child was born by cesarean section, consult your doctor about how long you should wait to have sex after the surgery. When in doubt, consult your doctor or simply wait until your follow-up postpartum exam, which is usually six weeks after birth.
While you may have cleared everything with your doctor, waiting until you both feel comfortable being sexually intimate with each other again is essential for both you and your partner. Should either you or your partner not be ready, it will often help to talk about it or find other ways to be intimate.
How does sex change after giving birth?
As you begin to have intercourse again, your vagina may feel a little more dry than normal. The reason for this is hormonal changes. Using a water-based lubricating lotion can help. Also, if you would like to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles again after giving birth, this can be done with targeted pelvic floor training.
Nevertheless, you may feel that your sexual desire is very low. This might be due to exhaustion, postnatal depression (the so-called “baby blues”), or simply stress and worries that can set in after giving birth. Perhaps you are also afraid of pain during sex. Such thoughts and feelings are normal after pregnancy. But if they increase and do not subside over time, you should contact your doctor.
As a general rule, a healthy and balanced diet and exercise can help you feel healthy and fit again – this will also bring back your desire for sex.
For most couples, sexual activity resumes about a year after childbirth. Knowing that ovulation will also start again is important, which means you will be fertile even if your period hasn’t returned yet. Should you not plan to have a second child right away, it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about a suitable contraceptive method.
Hygiene is important!
A lack of hygiene can lead to infections. In turn, these can trigger premature labor and result in premature birth. In order to prevent bacteria or fungi from colonizing, personal hygiene is a top priority when having sex during pregnancy.
As a rule, cold water is enough for intimate hygiene. But you should not overdo it with cleanliness, so as not to destroy the protective environment of the vagina. Of course, your partner must also pay attention to cleanliness and hygiene.
Recommended sex positions during pregnancy
Not every position during pregnancy feels comfortable – or is even possible. As the mother-to-be also becomes less fit and agile as her childbearing belly grows, you need to be creative in bed. However, with a little imagination, you can enjoy a diverse sex life in different circumstances, offering variety to both partners. These positions are light-hearted alternatives that will allow you to enjoy your sex life even towards the end of pregnancy:
In this position, the pregnant woman can lie on her side while her partner cuddles up to her from behind. Not only does this side position relieve pressure on the abdomen, but it also ensures less deep penetration.
In this position, there is no pressure on the baby bump and the pregnant woman is able to control the rhythm and depth of penetration.
Here she is in a quadrupedal position in front of him and he penetrates her from behind while kneeling. At the same time, the baby bump has enough space. If she finds the hanging belly uncomfortable, however, a pillow can provide support from below.
As a general rule, any position during sex while pregnant is allowed if it’s fun and feels good to the body! Plus, an orgasm is good for more than just the parents-to-be. The mother also shares the large number of endorphins released and the resulting feeling of happiness with her baby through the umbilical cord.
Can pregnancy affect fathers’ libido?
The majority of men find their partners at least as attractive, if not more so, during pregnancy. Firmer breasts and new curves excite the imagination, and rosier skin and more lustrous hair make the partner even more appealing. However, there are also reasons among expectant fathers why the desire for sex with the pregnant partner can fall behind.
Apart from the unfounded fear of hurting the unborn child, the prospect of being a father and the new responsibility can make the expectant father feel insecure in the early days. Be it, mother or father, each must first grow into his or her new role. Therefore, open conversations about concerns and needs are important not only for pregnant women but also for their partners. This trustful exchange keeps you connected as a couple and allows you to find ways of intimacy even without sex.
Facts rather than myths about sex while pregnant
Here we show you some myths about sex during pregnancy, so stay tuned:
Myth: The child will get hurt or notice the sex
Fact: Anatomically, it is not possible for the penis to touch the embryo. This is because the amniotic sac, the amniotic fluid, the muscles and the tissue of the uterus sufficiently protect the unborn child. Even the movements during sex do not change this. Your penis will never penetrate further than the closed cervix.
Myth: Sex during pregnancy induces premature labor
Fact: While making love, the love and bonding hormone oxytocin is stimulated, which makes you feel connected to your partner. Moreover, the male sperm contains the hormone-like substance prostaglandin. In fact, both substances promote contractions.
However, don’t worry: the amount of these substances is far from sufficient to trigger early labor. It is not until your body is ready for the end of pregnancy that oxytocin, prostaglandin and orgasm can actually accelerate the onset of labor and the softening of the cervix.
Myth: Sex during pregnancy causes miscarriages
Fact: Miscarriages are usually caused by genetic factors or infection. Sex does not harm your unborn baby, but rather relaxes both of you.
Conclusion: Talk about sex!
When you are uncertain whether you could experience complications or whether you are allowed to have sex while pregnant, consult your midwife or your doctor for advice.
You should also talk openly in your partnership about whether and how you find sexuality pleasant during pregnancy. At the same time, intimacy, regardless of the week of pregnancy, is not necessarily the same as a physical union. When sexual intercourse is not an option until after the birth, cuddling instead of sex can satisfy the need for togetherness and tenderness for both women and men.