Pregnancy is a unique journey, with the human body undergoing a significant amount of change as it prepares to welcome a new life into the world. Unfortunately, however, the subject of having sex during pregnancy is still a taboo topic for many.
Many couples have concerns about how their sex life will be impacted during pregnancy, wondering if they should avoid sex altogether, or take certain steps to protect their child before birth. But rest assured, many couples continue to have sex during pregnancy, and as long as certain precautions are followed, it can actually come with so many benefits for your health and your relationship.
Below, we will explore everything you need to know about sex during pregnancy, outlining some of the best options for both you and your partner.
Can I have sex during pregnancy?
In short, yes. It is totally safe to have sex while pregnant unless your doctor or midwife has told you otherwise. In fact, it is typically understood that - from early pregnancy all the way up until your water breaks - sex is perfectly normal and healthy.
There are, however, some cases where a doctor might advise a couple to modify their sexual activities or abstain from intercourse during the pregnancy. Some of these circumstances can include:
- If your placenta partially, or completely, covers the cervical opening (placenta previa)
- If you are experiencing unexplained vaginal bleeding
- If you are leaking amniotic fluid
- If your partner is suffering from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
If any of the above statements apply to you, have a conversation with your healthcare provider, who will be able to discuss some of your options in further detail.
Myths about sex during pregnancy
It is normal to feel somewhat nervous about sex during pregnancy, especially with all the misconceptions that tend to circulate during this time. So, let's outline a few common myths about pregnancy sex, unpacking what they mean and why they are not a cause for concern.
Myth #1: Sex can induce labour.
One of the biggest myths surrounding sex during pregnancy is that it can induce labour prematurely. This belief stems from the fact that semen contains prostaglandins, which can help soften the cervix. However, the amount of prostaglandins in semen is usually not enough to trigger labour, unless the body is already fully prepared for it. If you are worried about prostaglandins, you can always use protection during intercourse.
Myth #2: Sex will hurt the baby.
Don't worry, your partner's penis, or sex toys, will not interfere with your unborn child. This is because the baby grows and develops in the uterus which is completely closed off from the vagina by the cervix.
Therefore, engaging in sexual activity (including penetrative vaginal sex), should pose no threat to your baby. The amniotic fluid and muscles of the uterus act as a protective barrier, shielding the baby from harm. And as previously mentioned, the cervix remains tightly closed during a healthy pregnancy, creating a barrier that will prevent anything from reaching the baby.
Myth #3: Orgasms can be dangerous.
Some couples worry that having orgasms can be harmful to the baby, especially if it is a vaginal one. This is down to the fact that orgasms, whether clitoral or vaginal, lead to uterine contractions, which, while they might sound scary, are perfectly normal and usually harmless up until the final stages of pregnancy. These are not strong enough to induce labour.
It is also worth noting that your baby is not going to be aware of any sexual activity that might take place over the course of your pregnancy. Actually, the child can benefit from the motion of movement, or the orgasm experienced by the parent. As your body responds to sexual stimulation as it reaches climax, the rhythmic contractions of the uterus are akin to the gentle rocking motion that often soothes babies after birth. Orgasm and sexual intercourse can also release endorphins, the happy hormones, which are linked to a reduction in stress hormones, including cortisol. Having high endorphins and low cortisol levels is beneficial for maternal health, which in turn has a positive effect on your baby’s health.
Benefits of pregnancy sex
Some of the benefits that come from having sex while pregnant include, but are not limited to:
- Increased blood flow, especially to the sexual organs (including breasts, clitoris and vagina). This can result in increased genital sensitivity, which leads to better orgasms.
- Positive sexual experiences help to boost body confidence and self-esteem, especially during a time when the body is growing and changing.
- Sex is a great way to relieve stress and help with pregnancy-related aches and pains.
- Sex can have a calming effect, releasing endorphins that help to improve mindset and overall mood.
- Sexual intimacy can help build emotional bonds between partners, helping them navigate the journey of parenthood together.
How to make sex better during pregnancy
As your body adapts to accommodate a new life, it is common for your sexual experiences to evolve as well. So, to make sure that your sex remains comfortable and satisfying throughout your pregnancy, consider the following tips:
Be aware of hormonal changes
Pregnancy brings about hormonal shifts that can influence your sexual experiences. These changes might manifest as tender breasts or nipples, vaginal dryness, or even sensations of tightness or pressure on the bladder. Make a note of these changes as and when they occur, communicating openly with your partner about how to make sex as comfortable as possible for you.
Find comfortable positions
As your pregnancy progresses and the belly expands, you might notice that some sexual positions have become less comfortable than they once were. But not to worry, experimenting with different positions is a great way to help find new ones that work for both partners.
We would recommend that you avoid lying flat on your back for extended periods, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, as this can cause dizziness and put pressure on major blood vessels.
Some of the most comfortable sex positions to try during pregnancy include:
- Lying sideways or face-to-face: This position allows for intimacy while relieving pressure on the abdomen.
- Spooning: A gentle and nurturing position that supports closeness without straining the belly.
- Cowgirl (or woman on top): You're in control in this position, so you can adjust depth and pace as and when you wish.
- Sitting on the edge of the bed: This position can alleviate pressure on your abdomen while still maintaining intimacy.
Communicate with your partner
PSA: communication is vital to a healthy sex life, whether you are pregnant or not. Therefore, if you are feeling any discomfort or experiencing unusual sensations during sex, communicate these feelings to your partner. Honesty will help to foster an understanding and supportive sexual environment, enabling both of you to adapt and make adjustments if you feel they are necessary.
Find new ways to be intimate
Remember, sex is not entirely contained to penetration. Intimacy is about emotional connectivity and closeness as much as it is about physical contact. There are plenty of alternatives that can provide a sense of closeness and intimacy to your partner. For example, engaging in oral sex or enjoying gentle physical contact can offer meaningful intimacy and pleasure, without penetrative sex.
Listen to your body
Pregnancy comes with a range of physical and hormonal changes that can affect your body, as well as sexual desire. So, while it's worth noting that sex can be a source of pleasure during pregnancy, it is also crucial to understand that it is by no means an obligation.
Whether you feel inclined to engage in sexual activity during pregnancy, or if you don't, there's no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Pregnancy introduces a completely new experience, one that varies from individual to individual. What might be enjoyable for one person might not be the same for another. It's important to acknowledge that your sex drive might change during pregnancy – some individuals might experience an increase, while others might notice a decrease.
Remember, being pregnant doesn't mean that you can't have sex. Whether you're flying solo or engaging in partnered intimacy, you can still experience pleasure and maintain a close connection with your significant other. In fact, some people can even find sex more enjoyable during pregnancy. As long as you pay attention to your body's cues and communicate openly with your partner, you can still have great sex before your baby arrives.
Equally important, if you don't want to have sex while you're pregnant, this is fine too. The concept of a 'healthy sex life' isn't universal – it varies from person to person. Factors like comfort, sexual desire, and preferences play a role in determining what feels healthy for you. Each pregnancy, and every person's sex drive, is going to be unique and specific to the individual, and you should never feel pressured to do anything that you don't want to do.
Speak with a professional
If you have any concerns or questions about sex during your pregnancy, it is always best to consult with your doctor, sexual health nurse, or midwife, who can offer specific guidance and support during this exciting time. While it might feel a little awkward to discuss, this is all part of your provider's job, and they will be used to hearing these questions from their other patients on a regular basis.
Here at Daye, we understand the importance of finding health experts you trust, which is why we’ve partnered with a variety of leading specialists. You can easily book an appointment to speak with a sexual health practitioner on our platform – why not reach out to one of our trusted experts today?
Plus, we’ve designed our at-home vaginal microbiome screening to help you take control of your vaginal health and fertility. Understanding your vaginal microbiome is not only crucial for a healthy pregnancy but also for those trying to conceive, so we’ve created this unique tampon test to help you get to know yours. Try one today to gain key insights into your personal vaginal microbiome, potentially affecting fertility, and to detect any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that could pose risks during pregnancy. With this knowledge, you can approach your pregnancy or conception journey with greater confidence and understanding of your body's unique needs.
Your pelvic floor is one of the most important parts of your body, controlling vital organ functions and maintaining your overall well-being. By having a better understanding of its anatomy, functions, potential issues and treatment options, you'll be able to maintain a healthy pelvic floor which can then help you live a healthier life while building social confidence.
While we hope this guide has helped you understand your pelvic floor and body more, you'll still need to consult with a doctor or physiotherapist if you do sense something wrong. Don't hesitate to reach out if you're experiencing any of the symptoms we've mentioned and remember: there's nothing to ever be ashamed about when it comes to your body and health.