Pregnancy Sex Can Seem Scary, but It's Safe For Most — Here's What to Know
You're expecting, congratulations! Bring on the pregnancy apps, the cravings, and the stretchy clothes. But what about the sex? For some people, pregnancy brings on an increase in libido, while for other it can cause a major dip. Either way, you may be wondering, is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?
Fortunately, pregnancy sex is almost always safe, barring any medical conditions or a high-risk pregnancy. Be sure to ask your doctor about your specific circumstance, of course. But if you want to learn more generally about pregnancy sex, whether you can have sex while pregnant, pregnancy sex positions, and benefits of pregnancy sex, keep reading. Ahead, experts share their best tips for sex during pregnancy.
Is It Safe to Have Sex During Pregnancy?
Of course, but like most things you want to do while pregnant, there are some concerns to keep in mind.
"You should always talk to your doctor about what activities are safe in pregnancy for your individual circumstances, particularly if you have any risk factors during pregnancy or have a history of complications in previous pregnancies," explains Kelly Culwell, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and women's health expert.
Dr. Culwell says that during an uncomplicated pregnancy, having sex is perfectly fine. However, it's not advised if you have a condition like placenta previa or if you are at risk for a preterm labor.
"If during any month during your pregnancy, you experience any pain or bleeding, have been diagnosed with preterm labor, preterm cervical dilatation, or a placental condition that covers your cervix, you should not have sex during pregnancy," advises Erica Montes, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn based in Arizona.
In addition to vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex are also fine when you're pregnant. Again, be sure to speak with your obstetrician and/or midwife about your specific situation.
When to Stop Sex During Pregnancy
Again, pregnancy sex is generally safe. That being said, there are a few medical reasons why your doctor may recommend avoiding or stopping sex, according to the Mayo Clinic, including the following reasons:
- You have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
- You're leaking amniotic fluid.
- Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence).
- Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervical opening (placenta previa).
- You have a history of preterm labor or premature birth.
Benefits of Having Sex While Pregnant
Sex can be a great stress reliever and help you relax during what can be a stressful and complicated time, according to the American Pregnancy Association. It's also a great way to bond with your partner, both emotionally and physically.
If you're near or past your due date, sex is often advised to help speed along the process, too. "Sex can induce labor and is sometimes recommended to help stimulate labor at term or post-term," Dr. Culwell says. But that's not something you have to worry about before your third trimester. "In a normal pregnancy, sex is unlikely to stimulate labor preterm," Dr. Culwell says.
Consequences of Not Having Sex During Pregnancy
There are no consequences of not having sex during pregnancy, and you shouldn't feel bad if your libido has changed or if you're experiencing fears and concerns around pregnancy sex. Some pregnant people may be dealing with negative feelings about their changing bodies during pregnancy, which could put an emotional hindrance on wanting to have sex.
Exhaustion as well as other physical changes can also serve as roadblocks, especially as you get further along in your pregnancy. "Due to breast tenderness, pelvic discomfort from your growing baby, and fatigue, you may not feel up for sex as often as your partner," Dr. Montes says. Her suggestion: "Talk to your partner about your feelings so you can be intimate in other ways." Be sure to give yourself grace as well, as your body is going through major changes.
Best Sex Positions During Pregnancy
Most sexual positions are OK during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. That being said, you may find that some of your past favorite sex positions aren't as comfortable. "During pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters, it may not be very comfortable to lay flat on your back," Dr. Montes says.
Take this time to try different positions and experiment until you find one (or more!) that makes you feel comfortable. According to a 2019 study, the position chosen most often during first trimester is missionary. But by the second trimester, pregnant people tend to favor cowgirl where the pregnant person is on top. This sex position allows the pregnant person to control penetration depth and avoids putting pressure on the belly or back. Doggy style and spooning were other favorites during the second trimester. And by third trimester, the missionary position was back on top. Ultimately, the best sex position during pregnancy is the one that works best for you.
It's also important to note that out of 102 patients who were excluded from the study, 96 patients claimed that they were sexually inactive during the third trimester of pregnancy. So don't feel bad if your libido has dipped or changed during pregnancy. A supportive partner will find other ways to be intimate and affectionate in the ways that you need.