Doesn’t it seem like the answer to every question about what you should or shouldn’t do during pregnancy is “Usually you can, but sometimes you can’t”?
When it comes to whether it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy, the answer is a variation: “You almost always can, depending on how you define sex.”
Sex is a wonderful part of any marriage or intimate relationship. In many ways it is a good thing to have sexual intercourse and other sexual activity during your pregnancy. It keeps the bonds of your relationship strong, it helps you relax, it can help improve your sleep, it makes you feel happier, and it has even been found to help boost your immune system. And many women find that their orgasms, which are good things to begin with, are better and stronger during their pregnancy.
Early in your pregnancy, sex may not be on your mind because you are nauseous or feeling tired all the time. But if you are in the mood (and your partner is, too!), go for it.
Still, there are some myths about sex during pregnancy: You’ll bother the baby or you’ll jar the baby loose or your husband will poke the baby. These things are not likely. In the case of your husband poking the baby with his penis, it isn’t even possible because your baby is safely cushioned in your uterus during your pregnancy. If he or she is not bothered by you walking around, running, or taking an exercise class, a good old romp in the hay is not going to bother him or her either. During pregnancy, your cervix is blocked off from your vagina by something called a mucus plug, which keeps whatever is in your vagina out of your uterus.
Late in pregnancy, your expanded middle may make some sexual positions uncomfortable. Experiment and find out what works for you and your partner. Keep in mind that, during the last month or so of your pregnancy, you should avoid lying flat on your back because the weight of the baby will rest on some major blood vessels in your abdomen.
An orgasm during sex may often cause your uterus to contract, but this is no reason to avoid having one. Unless you are at high risk for having a miscarriage, an orgasm will not trigger early labor. When you are at your due date or past it, an orgasm may even help start labor, but if all is well it will not trigger labor earlier than that.
But as with everything, whether you need to avoid sex depends on whether all is well. If you are at high risk of having a miscarriage, if you have a history of miscarriages, or have a placenta previa, your obstetrician or midwife will give you specific instructions about what kind of sexual activity you can have. He or she may tell you to avoid having intercourse after a certain point in your pregnancy, or may say you can have sex, but should avoid having an orgasm.
If your health care provider gives you any kind of restrictions on having sex, make sure that you clearly understand what you can do and what you should avoid. You and your partner may be told not to have penetrative sex (penis in vagina), but that masturbating each other or that performing oral sex on your partner may be fine.
And of course, always use common sense. In other words, put off swinging from the chandelier until after your delivery. Other than that, as Dr. Ruth says, “Have good sex!”