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Interactive Health
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Sex During Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, you might find that your interest in sex has decreased or increased. No matter how sexual you feel, there will be changes in your sex life. Open communication will be the key to a satisfying and safe sexual relationship during pregnancy — whether this means talking about how you feel, trying different positions, or finding other ways to be intimate.

Is Sex During Pregnancy Safe?

Sex is considered safe during all stages of a low-risk pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor, nurse-midwife, or other pregnancy health care provider if you're uncertain about whether you are considered low-risk for complications such as miscarriage or pre-term labor.

Can Sex Harm My Baby?

No. Your baby is fully protected by the amniotic sac (a thin-walled bag that holds the fetus and surrounding fluid) and the strong muscles of the uterus. There's also a thick mucus plug that seals the cervix and helps guard against infection. A penis does not have contact with the fetus during sex.

Can Intercourse or Orgasm Cause Miscarriage or Labor?

In cases of normal, low-risk pregnancies, the answer is no. The contractions that you may feel during and just after orgasm are entirely different from the contractions associated with labor. However, you should check with your health care provider to make sure that your pregnancy falls into the low-risk category. And let them know if you have severe or continued cramping after sex.

When Is Sex During Pregnancy Not Safe?

Some sexual behaviors that aren't safe for any pregnant woman:

  • If you have oral sex, your partner should not blow air into your vagina. Blowing air can cause an air embolism (a blockage of a blood vessel by an air bubble), which, while rare, can be potentially fatal for mother and child.
  • You should not have unprotected sex with a partner whose sexual history is unknown to you or who may have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, or HIV. If you become infected, the disease may be passed to your baby, with potentially dangerous results.

If complications with your pregnancy are expected or found by your health care provider, they may advise against sexual intercourse. Talk to your health care provider if you have:

  • a history or threat of miscarriage
  • a history of pre-term labor (you've previously delivered a baby before 37 weeks) or signs indicating the risk of pre-term labor (such as premature uterine contractions)
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding, discharge, or cramping
  • leakage of amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds the baby)
  • placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta (the blood-rich structure that nourishes the baby) is down so low that it covers the cervix (the opening of the uterus)
  • incompetent cervix, a condition in which the cervix is weakened and dilates (opens) prematurely, raising the risk for miscarriage or premature delivery
  • multiple fetuses (twins, triplets, etc.)

Is it Normal for My Sex Drive to Rise or Fall During Pregnancy?

An increased interest in sex or lack of interest are both normal, as is everything in between. Many pregnant women find that things like tiredness, nausea, breast tenderness, and the increased need to pee make sex less enjoyable, especially during the first trimester. Generally, these symptoms ease during the second trimester, and some women find that their desire for sex increases. Also, the freedom from worries about birth control and a renewed closeness with their partner can make sex more fulfilling. Desire generally lowers again during the third trimester as the uterus grows even larger and the reality of what's about to happen sets in.

A partner's desire for sex is likely to increase or decrease as well. Some feel even closer to their pregnant partner and enjoy the changes in their bodies. Others may have decreased desire due to worries about the burdens of parenthood, or because of concerns about the health of both the mother and the unborn child.

Your partner might need time to get used to the idea that you’re both a sexual partner and an expectant mom. Again, good communication can be a great help in dealing with these issues.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call your health care provider if you're unsure whether sex is safe for you. Also, call if you notice any unusual symptoms after sex, such as pain, bleeding, or discharge, or if you have contractions that seem to continue after sex.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2022