It’s very common for patients to have questions about sex during pregnancy, but couples are sometimes a little reticent to ask direct questions. That’s understandable; sex is a special and intimate interaction between two individuals, and sometimes it can be hard to talk about–even with your OBGYN or midwife. But having a frank discussion about sex during pregnancy with your OBGYN or midwife can help clear up confusion and clarify your options.
In most cases, vaginal intercourse during pregnancy is normal and healthy. Getting the right information can help ensure you’re making the best possible decisions for your body, your child, and your peace of mind.
Is it Healthy to Have Sex During Pregnancy?
The short answer to this question is that it’s safe to have vaginal intercourse while you’re pregnant. The long answer has a few more caveats; essentially, you’ll want to be on the lookout for some possible issues that could make sex while you’re pregnant less safe, which are listed below.
When Should I Avoid Sex if I’m Pregnant?
Generally speaking, sex during pregnancy is both normal and healthy. Your fetus is protected both by amniotic fluid and your own powerful uterine muscles. The act of sex itself, then, will not impact your pregnancy.
But there are some times in which you’ll want to either exercise some extra caution or avoid sex altogether. If you’re sexually active during your pregnancy, you’ll want to keep an out for the following.
Unexplained Vaginal Bleeding
Any unexplained vaginal bleeding should be reported to your OBGYN or midwife as soon as possible. In most cases, your OBGYN will want to perform an in-office screening before you are sexually active again. Depending on the results of your screening, your OBGYN may recommend abstaining from sexual activity, either temporarily or until your pregnancy comes to term.
Amniotic Fluid Leaking
In some cases, sex can cause some mild leaking of amniotic fluids. If this happens, your OBGYN or midwife will want to perform an in-office exam and may recommend abstaining from sex while you are pregnant.
There are several cervical issues which may warrant abstaining from sex. Among the most common of these is an issue called cervical incompetence, which is a medical term for the cervix dilating prematurely. In cases of cervical incompetence, a special stitch called a cervical cerclage may be used to keep the cervix from dilating too far too quickly. In these cases, sexual activity is not recommended.
In cases where the placenta overlaps with the opening of the cervix, this is called a placenta previa. Patients with a placenta previa are advised to avoid any vaginal penetration due to the risk of harm due to damage to the placenta.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Pregnant women should generally abstain from sex while pregnant if either partner has a sexually transmitted infection. STIs can very easily be transmitted from mother to fetus, which can lead to short and long term hazards and complications. It’s very important to be open and honest with your partner and care provider about STIs of any form.
Follow Your OBGYN Recommendations
It’s important to note that not all of these conditions are caused by sex; rather, sex during pregnancy should be avoided when these conditions are present.
There are other conditions in which you may be advised to avoid sexual activity, even if none of the above conditions have been noted. For example, if you have a history of premature birth or preterm labor, your OBGYN or midwife may provide you with special instructions in terms of sexual activity.
Ask Questions Until You’re Comfortable
It’s common for questions about sex during pregnancy to be both personal and intimate. You might have concerns related to your unique medical history or the nature of your relationship. However, it’s unlikely you’ll ask a question your OBGYN or midwife has not heard before. And as always, it’s important to ask questions until you’re comfortable with the level of information you have and you can be confident in your decisions.
Communicating Your Preferences
You may also find that your preferences change as your pregnancy progresses. Your sex drive, for example, may fluctuate between the first and second trimesters, depending on your hormone levels and blood flow. In general, sex drive can vary significantly from woman to woman. Your preference change from day to day. So it’s important to keep those lines of communication open.
Pregnancy can profoundly change the body, releasing a flood of new hormones and ushering in a series of physical and mental transformations.Open and honest communication with your partner about what you’re feeling and how you’d like to proceed can help keep you both on the same page.
A Normal Part of Pregnancy
It’s very normal–and very common–for couples to have sex for the duration of a pregnancy. Outside of a few select cases, some of which are outlined here, there is usually no medical reason to avoid sex while pregnant. However, every pregnancy is unique, so taking a thoughtful, attentive, and intentional approach to your physical intimacy can be good for both partners.
Your OBGYN will provide you with advice designed to safeguard your pregnancy and protect your health. The rest is up to you. Please feel free to look through our obstetrics blog library if you have other questions. We add to it regularly. If you have more questions or want personalized answers about sex during pregnancy, contact our Wilmette or Glenview offices today.