Sex during Pregnancy

Fact checked

By SheCares Editorial Team | Updated: Oct 02, 2019

When it comes to having sex while pregnant, most women and their partners have questions and concerns about its safety and the logistics.

These understandable doubts have been identified as one of the main reasons couples' sexual activity decreases during pregnancy, despite scientific evidence that pregnancy sex is safe and can even be beneficial.1 It is, therefore, important for expectant couples to disperse the myths about having sex while pregnant and focus on nurturing their intimacy throughout this incredible life experience.

Continue reading to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about sex during pregnancy, including is sex safe during pregnancy, will my sex drive during pregnancy change, what are the best pregnancy sex positions, and is bleeding after sex while pregnant a sign of complications.

Sex during pregnancy

Is It Safe To Have Sex While Pregnant?

Is it safe to have sex while pregnant

In healthy and uncomplicated pregnancies, sex is safe and does not carry any risks for the baby.2 In fact, sex during pregnancy can be beneficial as it promotes a loving relationship between the partners, triggers hormonal release that can ease pregnancy discomforts, and helps relieve stress during pregnancy. 

Nevertheless, here are some of the most common concerns about having sex while pregnant parents-to-be might have:

Can Sex in Pregnancy Hurt the Baby?

No, sex in a healthy pregnancy cannot hurt the baby. The baby is well protected into womb by the amniotic fluid and uterine muscles. Also, a mucus plug guards the passage through the cervix. So, while having sex during pregnancy, the penis only penetrates the vagina and does not cross the cervix into the uterus nor makes contact with the baby.

Can Sex in Pregnancy Trigger Labor?

No, sex during pregnancy has not been shown to trigger a miscarriage, real contractions, or preterm birth. Some women in late pregnancy, however, can experience practice contractions, or Braxton Hicks contractions, after sex. Since this is how the uterine muscles prepare for childbirth, they are normal, go away on their own, and do not lead to real labor.

Can All Women Have Sex during Pregnancy?

While most women can safely have sex when pregnant, some might have some restrictions, including those at an increased risk of premature labor due to an incompetent cervix, placenta previa, history of preterm labor, or multiple gestation.3 It is important to obtain clearance from one's doctor.

Increased or Decreased Sex Drive in Pregnancy

Increased or decreased sex drive in pregnancy

While safety concerns about having sex while pregnant should not be an intimacy-inhibiting factor, changes in libido might be.

As a result of rapid hormonal and physiological changes, expectant mothers might find themselves caught between an increased or decreased sex drive in pregnancy.

  • In the first trimester, women might experience heightened libido, but morning sickness or fatigue might oftentimes actually discourage them from frequent intimacy with their partners.

  • With the second trimester and many of the pregnancy symptoms lessening, many women experience a boost of energy, which also translates to an increased sex drive in pregnancy. Many expectant mothers enjoy more frequent orgasms thanks to an increased blood flow, making the genitals more sensitive and well lubricated.

  • In the third trimester, the rapidly growing pregnancy belly might make intimacy a little trickier and less comfortable. Because of the changes happening in their bodies, women often report feeling less attractive, which can lead to a decreased sex drive in pregnancy and overall intimacy.

Pregnancy Sex Positions

Best sex positions while pregnant

When nurturing intimacy in pregnancy, a couple should focus on safety and comfort, while maintaining a curious attitude and patience with one another.

Best Sex Positions While Pregnant

For sex during pregnancy to be mutually enjoyable, it requires some adjustments. What works in the first trimester may not work in late pregnancy. So, it is worth keeping an innovative attitude and experimenting to find what feels good.

The following are some of the most comfortable sex positions while pregnant:

  • Spooning
  • Doggy-style
  • Standing up
  • Cowgirl or reverse cowgirl

Sex Positions to Avoid in Pregnancy

Sex positions to avoid in pregnancy

Certain positions might not feel comfortable with an advancing pregnancy. This includes times when too much pressure is put on the belly due to the position itself or a partner's weight. Most women do not feel good laying on their backs as belly weight can restrict blood flow.

Consequently, sex positions to avoid pregnancy include the following:

  • Positions in which a woman lies flat on her back (e.g. missionary position)

  • Positions in which a woman lies flat on her belly (e.g. jockey position)

Points to Remember

If a woman finds penetrative sex unattractive or uncomfortable at some point during pregnancy, she should not force it. Couples are encouraged to maintain an open conversation to ensure that their needs are being heard and not neglected.

Meanwhile, partners can stay intimate with alternative forms, such as kissing, cuddling, or oral sex. However, when engaging in oral sex, it is important that the partner does not blow air into the vagina as it can cause potentially life-threatening complications, such as air embolism.4

Bleeding after Sex while Pregnant

Although bleeding after sex while pregnant can be quite terrifying, it is generally not a cause of concern.

Light spotting right after sex or within the next day is most probably only a results of slight irritation as genitalia are more sensitive due to hormonal changes.

If a women experiences anything from spotting to heavy bleeding that occurs independently of intercourse, it could be a sign of potential complications, like placenta previa or ectopic pregnancy. As such, it should be brought to the attention of a doctor right away. Other kinds of discharges, such as amniotic fluid leakage, should be evaluated immediately, too.

Key Takeaways

Despite popular beliefs of many parents to-be, sex during pregnancy is safe and does not hurt the baby, nor does it trigger a miscarriage or preterm birth, as long as it is a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy. Women often report that having sex while pregnant helps them nurture strong bonds with their partners as well as boost overall well-being. Because of a hormonal influx that bring about a number of changes in a woman's body, most expectant mothers experience shifts in their libido at various points of their gestation. Also, a growing belly and body image concerns might put a further strain on intimacy. That is why couples are encouraged to approach pregnancy intimacy with patience and an open mind for finding what works best and experimenting with various positions, such as spooning or doggy-style, which are both safe and comfortable. With the right attitude, sex during pregnancy can be fun and pleasurable.