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Sex during pregnancy

Sex during pregnancy is usually ok if both partners are healthy, in particular the pregnant partner. Sex during pregnancy does not always mean intercourse; it includes giving each other a massage, bathing together, and having together moments alone where you get to hug, kiss, hold hands or simply talk. Frequency of sex is not an issue in healthy pregnancies. Pregnancy is an important time for couples to grow closer. Sometimes there are problems but to prevent sexual miscommunication, it is imperative that you and your partner continue your verbal communication. It is important to share feelings, thoughts, fears and desires. This way you remove confusion and keep the relationship happy and calm during the pregnancy months.

How pregnancy affects you sexually

Generally pregnant women experience one of the two sex drive patterns. In the first, desire lessens in the first trimester, picks up in the second and declines again in the final trimester. The first trimester has its own set of problems such as nausea and fatigue. During the third trimester, weight gain, enlarged abdomen, tender breasts may create discomfort and disinterest in sex. In the second instance, a gradual decrease in desire for sex is observed as pregnancy progresses. Some women experience enhanced sex drive owing to their raging hormones; others feel less attractive and so sex is the last thing on their minds. Whichever the case it is important to open the channels of communication with your partner and bring out your feelings in the open.

Six most common fears about sex during pregnancy:

Fear # 1 - Miscarriage

This fear tops the list. Most couples are especially afraid of loss during the first trimester when the threat of miscarrying is always the greatest. However according to research the most common cause for miscarriage are genetic factors and infections. In the absence of these 2 conditions, sex during pregnancy isn't likely to cause any problems in a healthy pregnancy. However if they exist, then sex or no sex, you could miscarry anyway. The bottom line: Always ask your doctor if your pregnancy is at risk and seek doctor's advice on sexual issues.

Fear # 2 - Premature Labor

the predominant fear during the second and especially the third trimester is premature labor. Research has shown that preterm labor is less common among pregnant women who had intercourse at least once a week. Also, sex during pregnancy is safe and has a protective effect against early labor in all but a very small group of women (those carrying more than one baby or having placental problems). The bottom line: If your pregnancy is complication-free and not at risk for premature labor then sex through the end is okay for you - particularly if you avoid the male-superior or missionary position after 16 weeks until baby's birth because the weight of uterus restricts circulation. If you experience extreme cramping after intercourse, bring up issue with your doctor before trying again.

Fear # 3 - Hurting the Baby

Third on the list, but it should be the least of your concerns. Experts opine that it is impossible to harm the fetus in the uterus because your baby literally floats in a pool of fluid and your abdominal wall and your entire pelvic structure protects this pool. This cushions your baby against everything except direct blows to your stomach. In addition, your cervical mucus plug guards the uterus opening, preventing sperm and bacteria from coming into contact with the baby. The bottom line: Sex during pregnancy won't endanger baby. Your baby won't even know what the two of you are up to.

Fear # 4 - Bleeding and Cramping

Cramping or bleeding following sex is not caused by the act but happens due to other reasons. Bleeding in early pregnancy occurs in as many as 50% of all pregnancies and the most common cause is a fragile cervix. During pregnancy the cervix descends lower into the vagina, and its tiny capillaries can sometimes break during intercourse, resulting in small amount of spotting lasting between 10 mins to an hour following the act. Cramping, mild uterine contractions following sexual stimulation, is not something to worry about. It generally subsides after an hour following sex and is not considered dangerous. The bottom line: If mild bleeding or cramping results after sexual intercourse, bed rest for an hour or two is recommended during which time these symptoms should ebb. If they don't or if they are severe, call your doctor right away. In fact it is advisable to mention any episodes of bleeding or cramping to your doctor, no matter how slight.

Fear # 5 - Orgasm

Cramping and slight spotting are often triggered when pregnant women climax. This has set the fear alarm in women. However these fears are unfounded in majority of the cases. The bottom line: Orgasms do cause uterine contractions but they do not cause cervical dilation and hence do not initiate labor. Again, do mention any incidents of cramping or spotting to your doctor.

Fear # 6 - Oral sex

In reality the only real danger associated with oral sex is if your partner has cold sore on or around the lips, or if he harbors any dental infection. These can be passed on to you and create problems during the later part of pregnancy and /or delivery. In the same token do not perform oral sex on your partner if he has any evidence of an STD.


Do not allow any blowing into the vagina during oral sex. This can cause air bubble, sometimes powerful enough to block a blood vessel, resulting in death for you and your baby.

When to avoid sexual activity

There are times and situations when sex is not a good idea while you are expecting. For some women problems develop right at the start of pregnancy. With others, sex during the second and third trimesters becomes a risky venture. Do not ignore your doctor's advice if sexual abstinence has been advised. However be certain that you have understood doctor's instructions on why sex is being prohibited and for how long. Make sure you consult your doctor in the event of any of the following red flags:

  • If you experience vaginal bleeding in any amount and at any point of your pregnancy. Leave it to your doctor to decide what should be done and what should not.
  • If you are diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, dilations occur prematurely increasing the risk of premature labor or even miscarriage
  • If you have a history of premature delivery, you are a likely candidate for preterm labor in your current pregnancy.
  • If you are diagnosed with placenta previa, the risk of early cervical dilation or premature labor is high.
  • If you are carrying more than one baby.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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