during pregnancy

Is It Safe to Have Sex During Pregnancy?

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There are plenty of things you have to change about your life when you get pregnant. Certain foods and medications are off-limits, alcohol is a no-no, even parts of your beauty routine may need to change! It’s ten VERY long months that may have you feeling like you’re living a completely different life. It’s normal to want to retain some sense of normalcy, while everything around you feels different. And for a lot of women, that could mean wanting to keep their love lives alive! Not to mention, the hormone surges during pregnancy can make you feel QUITE randy, if you catch my drift. Having sex while pregnant can be amazing, and plenty of couples enjoy a robust sex life right up until the end.

But, there are some precautions to take, particularly if you have pregnancy complications. And for some women, those complications mean the sex is going to have to wait. So when is it safe to have sex while pregnant, and when is it not? And how can you make the experience enjoyable for both participants? We have the lowdown on doing the deed during pregnancy.

Image: Giphy

So when is having sex while pregnant OK? During a normal pregnancy, pretty much from start to finish!

That is, if YOU are ready and comfortable. For a lot of women, the second trimester is where it’s at: your morning sickness will have probably abated by then, you’ve got a little tummy but nothing like the mountain to come, and you’ve gotten some of your energy back. But, even in the first and third trimesters, it’s totally safe to have sex during a normal pregnancy. In the first trimester, anything goes in the sex department. You don’t have to worry about position workarounds on account of your belly, most women experience increased lubrication, and some even experience an increase in their libido in those early weeks.

Second trimester sex can also be incredibly enjoyable! I remember beginning to feel human again right around 20 weeks, when I got my energy back and I didn’t fall asleep brushing my teeth every morning. But in the second trimester, you’ll need to start getting creative in the sexual positions department. After 20 weeks, pregnant women are advised not to lie or sleep on their backs. The pressure of your growing uterus can constrict your aorta, compromising blood flow to the placenta. So missionary may have to take a backseat from here on out. If you’re a big fan of on-your-back sex, try a pillow under your left hip to keep it elevated.

But what about that third trimester? Otherwise known as, HOLY CRAP LOOK AT MY BELLY.

Having sex during the third trimester can feel a lot like trying to get it on around the elephant in the room. Still safe, as long as your pregnancy is progressing normally and you aren’t at-risk for preterm labor or have any other complications. But, due to your growing belly, creativity in the bedroom is a must. The side-by-side position is a great option (with you on your left side), as is doggy-style or woman-on-top. The really great thing about you being on top is that you’re in control, and can adjust penetration or speed based on what feels good for you. If you’re down, and feeling good, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy sex right up until your water breaks. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, you know, WHILE you’re having sex.

Some sex while pregnant myths, debunked.

We’ve all heard our fair share of outdated parenting and pregnancy advice, right? And I’m sure plenty of you have heard some whoppers about having sex while pregnant. But I’m here to set the record straight, so you can get that itch scratched whenever you want. First, having sex while pregnant will NOT harm the baby. That baby is protected by one of the greatest force-fields of all time, ain’t nothing getting in there. And no, your partner’s penis or dildo will not poke the baby’s head or face or even come close to touching it. Second, there is no fluid transfer during pregnant sex. Your mucus plug keeps everything in that needs to stay in, and everything out that needs to stay out. The plug also protects you against infection, so nothing is getting into your cervix or beyond.

If you’re enjoying a normal, low-risk pregnancy, having sex won’t trigger labor, either. I know that sex is touted as one of the ways to bring on labor once you’ve reached full-term; some people believe that sex and nipple stimulation can trigger labor, but there’s no science to back that up.

The dos and don’ts of sex while pregnant.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re planning your sex sessions during your pregnancy is how comfortable YOU feel. If you don’t feel sexy, or the thought of having sex literally makes your skin crawl? THAT IS FINE AND NORMAL. You’re in control here, and for the next 10 months, what you say, goes!

Before starting any kind of sexual activity, make sure you check with your doctor or midwife to get the green light. While the majority of women who have normal, low-risk pregnancies are free to have as much sex as they want, there are some conditions that make sex a no-go. Your doctor may advise you to refrain from sex if you have placenta previa, cervical insufficiency, dilation of the cervix, unexplained vaginal bleeding, or are at risk for preterm labor. Also, doctors advise against having sex once your water has broken, since it could heighten the risk of infection.

If you or your partner have herpes and are experiencing an outbreak, no sex for you. If your partner has genital herpes, even if they’re not experience an outbreak, you need to avoid genital contact for the entire third trimester. Same applies for oral herpes, outbreak or not.

Finally, oral sex throughout pregnancy is totally safe (except in situations like we explained above). The one thing to keep in mind when receiving oral sex, or giving it to your pregnant female partner: licking and tongue penetration is fine, but don’t blow air or otherwise force air into the vagina. This can cause a rare but dangerous air embolism, which can be life-threatening to you and baby.

So, the bottom line is, having sex while pregnant is safe for you and baby, as long as you’re enjoying a normal, low-risk pregnancy. It can also be fun! But the most important thing to keep in mind is how YOU feel. Don’t ever feel bad for wanting ALL OF THE SEX, or none of the sex! Have as much or as little as you want and are comfortable with. Pregnancy is a journey for you and your partner, but since you’re doing all the heavy lifting, you get full control of the ride.

(Image: iStock/nd3000)