FAQ: Sex During Pregnancy
Sex is a natural part of a loving relationship and it can be perfectly safe during pregnancy. You might notice some changes, though. For example, your sex drive might be different to what it usually is and you might need to try new positions to find one that’s comfortable as your belly grows. Here we answer all your pregnancy sex-related questions like when sex might need to be avoided, what you should do if you notice bleeding after sex during pregnancy and how soon after giving birth it’s OK to have sex again.
Can I Have Sex During Pregnancy and Is It Safe?
If you’re healthy and having a normal pregnancy, having sex while pregnant is generally safe and you might even find it very enjoyable. Having intercourse or orgasms won’t harm your baby either; the amniotic fluid and the muscles of the uterus protect your little one. Also, the mucus plug, which blocks the opening of the cervix, helps keep your baby safe from infection. As always, though, if at any time during pregnancy you’re at all concerned about having sex, speak to your GP or midwife.
Is It Normal For My Sex Drive To Be Different?
Is sex the last thing on your mind? Or has your sex drive gone into overdrive? Both scenarios are normal during pregnancy and you might even find it fluctuates. Every mum-to-be and each pregnancy is unique, but here is how your sexual desire may be in each trimester:
First trimester. Your sex drive during early pregnancy may be affected by pregnancy hormones, feeling unwell with morning sickness, being tired or anxious, or having sore breasts. Changes to your libido can be perfectly normal at this time but if you have any concerns speak to your midwife or GP.
Second trimester. You may find your sex drive increases this trimester because some of your annoying early pregnancy symptoms may have subsided. Plus, your belly isn’t big enough yet to make certain sex positions uncomfortable. Increased blood flow to your pelvic region and hormonal changes may also enhance your sex drive at this time.
Third trimester. As your belly grows, you might find that some sex positions are uncomfortable. Discuss how you’re feeling with your partner and see if you can find a position that works for you both or perhaps find other ways to stay intimate, like cuddling and kissing.
Are There Any Circumstances When Sex Should Be Avoided?
Although your midwife or doctor will be able to answer this question most accurately, it may be best to avoid sex during pregnancy if
you have placenta praevia, which is when the placenta covers all or part of the cervix
any problems with your cervix
your waters have broken
you’ve experienced bleeding after sex during pregnancy or vaginal bleeding at any other time during your pregnancy
you’re pregnant with multiples or have had a premature labour in a past pregnancy and you’re in the later stages of this pregnancy.
Can Sex or Orgasms Trigger Premature Labour?
Sex and orgasms won’t trigger labour if your body isn’t ready to go into labour anyway. During or after orgasm, you might feel mild contractions. These are known as Braxton Hicks ‘practice’ contractions and these are not a sign of labour. If you do get Braxton Hicks, try some relaxation techniques or simply rest until they pass.
Do We Need to Use a Condom if I’m Pregnant?
Although you can’t get pregnant again, it is still important to use condoms to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) should one of you be infected.
What Sex Positions Are More Comfortable During Pregnancy?
Finding enjoyable sex positions while you’re pregnant is important. If a position isn’t working for you both, try something different. What works earlier in pregnancy may not work when your belly is much bigger by the third trimester. One option could be laying on your side, either face to face or with your partner behind you.
One Question Your Partner Might Have: How Might ‘Pregnancy Sex’ Be Different?
It’s natural for your partner to also have questions and concerns about sex during your pregnancy. Some couples find they’re happy to continue on with their sex lives as normal, others feel they don’t want to during this time. The key is to talk about how you’re both feeling. Keep in mind, you can keep your connection strong through kissing, cuddling or giving each other a sensual massage.
How Soon After I Give Birth Is It OK to Have Sex Again?
In general, there is no definitive ‘no sex’ period and there are no rules about when to start having sex either. You’ll probably be feeling tired and sore for a little while after you give birth, so whether you gave birth vaginally or had a caesarean, give your body the time it needs to recover and don’t feel that you have to rush into it.
It’s important to know that you can get pregnant again right after you give birth – even if you are breastfeeding. Unless you’re planning to have another baby right away, consider speaking to your midwife or doctor about which birth control methods are suitable for your situation.
How Can Sex After I Give Birth Be Different?
You might worry about how sex will be different after giving birth. This is normal – many new parents do! Initially, you might also feel hesitant about having sex again. You and your partner may worry that it will hurt you or you may be worried about the changes to your body. Make sure both you and your partner feel ready, take things slowly and stop at any time if something doesn’t feel right.
If you gave birth vaginally, there may be some stretching of the vaginal muscles and loss of sensation. Things should return back to normal in about six weeks or so. To strengthen these muscles, do pelvic floor exercises regularly.
You may also find that hormonal changes have made your vagina drier than usual, and it might help to use a water-based lubricant.
You or your partner may also have a lower sex drive. This can result from feeling tired or stressed, being worried that sex will hurt, losing interest because your focus is on your newborn, or feeling self-conscious about changes to your body. These concerns should resolve with time but speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor if you’re at all concerned about how you’re feeling.
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