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Sex during pregnancy

Is sex safe? Are certain positions off-limits? What if I'm just not in the mood?

Get the answers to your questions about pregnancy and sex. Just talking about pregnant sex can be a delicate subject. Dads-to-be may fear that certain sexual positions will harm the baby.

Moms-to-be may feel guilty about a changing sexual desire during pregnancy and be embarrassed to address such concerns with their ob-gyn. Sex during pregnancy But the truth is that most fears and worries around sex while pregnant are unnecessary. Many couples can continue to have a safe and rewarding sexual relationship through pregnancy. The key is good communication between you and your partner — and between you and your doctor.

The Facts About Sex During Pregnancy

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The two biggest misconceptions about sex during pregnancy are that sex is not safe and that women lose the desire to have sex. Here is what you need to know:

Sex is typically safe during all stages of a normal pregnancy. If you have a history of miscarriages, however, your doctor may advise you to avoid intercourse during the first three months.

Your baby is well protected inside the womb and is not harmed by sexual intercourse.

Although many women may feel less interested in sex, a woman's desire for sex during pregnancy may actually increase during the second trimester.

Sex can continue late into pregnancy with some adjustments and precautions.

If you experience fatigue early in your pregnancy, you may lose some or all of your desire for sex, often just temporarily. Later in your pregnancy, increased blood

flow to the pelvic area, breast enlargement, and the freedom of not having to worry about birth control may actually increase your sexual desire.

In the last stage of your pregnancy, your breasts may become tender, orgasms may become longer and harder, and the size of your belly may make some sexual positions uncomfortable.

Toward the end of your pregnancy some couples may be too preoccupied with the coming delivery to have much desire for sex.

Of course, you should always follow your doctor's instructions regarding pregnant sex, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy in which case your doctor may tell you to limit your sexual activity.

Enjoying Sex During Pregnancy

Talk honestly with your partner about each other’s needs and feelings.

Use these guidelines as a starting point — both for a conversation with your partner and one with your doctor to address your unique concerns:

Practice safety. Sexually transmitted diseases can be transmitted to your baby, so take any appropriate safe sex precautions. Avoid oral sex that includes blowing into the vagina as this can cause in air embolism (a blockage of a blood vessel by an air bubble), which can be potentially fatal for both you and your unborn child.

Expect ups and downs in sexual desire. There will be times when you feel too tired or too uncomfortable for sex. Changes in your hormones and in your body will affect your sexual desire in different ways. This is normal and you should not feel guilty.

Consider sexual comfort. Your breasts, especially your nipples, may become too sensitive to be touched later in your pregnancy. Using a water soluble lubricant or a lubricated condom may make sex more comfortable if your vaginal tissues have become engorged and are very sensitive as well.

Change up sexual position. Changes in your anatomy may make certain sexual positions, such as the woman being on the bottom, uncomfortable. Try having sex side-by-side, with you on top, or in a spooning position with your man behind you. You may need to experiment and communicate with each other about what feels best, especially later in your pregnancy.

Know when to say no to sex. Stop having sex and see your doctor if you have any vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, or pain during intercourse. Do not have sex if you are having contractions or your water has broken.

Always check with your doctor if you have any questions about pregnant sex and safety, and always let your partner know what works and what doesn't. There will be times when you don't have the energy or the desire for sex while pregnant, and that is normal. There is no right or wrong time, number of times, or way to have sex during pregnancy. And remember that sex is about more than just sexual intercourse: Don't forget about kissing, cuddling, messaging, and holding each other. Sexual intimacy, not performance, is the most important part of pregnant sex.

Sex During and After Pregnancy

If you're pregnant, you clearly already know something about sex. Now, though, you may be wondering whether it's safe to have sex during pregnancy. Could there be risks? And what about sex after pregnancy? Here's the information you've been looking for.

Is It Safe to Have Sex During Pregnancy

Sex is a natural, normal part of pregnancy -- if you're having a normal pregnancy. The movement and penetration of intercourse, in itself, won't harm the baby. Your baby is protected by your abdomen and the muscular walls of the uterus. Your baby is also cushioned by the fluid in the amniotic sac.

The contractions of orgasm aren't the same as labor contractions. Still, as a general safety precaution, some doctors advise avoiding sex in the last few weeks of pregnancy, believing that hormones in semen called prostaglandins can stimulate contractions. One exception? Women who are overdue and want to induce labor. Some doctors believe that prostaglandins in semen actually induce labor in a full-term or past-due pregnancy, since the gel used to "ripen" the cervix and induce labor also contains prostaglandins. But other doctors believe this semen/labor connection is only theoretical and that having sex doesn't trigger labor.

But if you have a high-risk pregnancy -- for instance, with a complication such as preterm labor or risk of miscarriage -- your doctor may advise you to avoid sex during pregnancy. If you have any question about whether yours is a high-risk pregnancy or the safety of sex for you -- even if sex has been safe for you in past pregnancies -- be sure to ask your doctor.

When to Abstain From Sex During Pregnancy

    Your doctor may advise you not to have sex if you have any of the following types of high-risk pregnancy:

  • Risk of miscarriage or history of past miscarriages
  • Risk of preterm labor (contractions before 37 weeks of pregnancy), which puts you at risk of delivering a premature baby
  • Vaginal bleeding, discharge, or cramping without a known cause
  • Ruptured membranes and leakage of fluid from the amniotic sac
  • incompetent cervix (a damaged cervix that has opened too early in pregnancy)
  • Placenta previa (the placenta is positioned abnormally low in the uterus, near the cervix)
  • Twins, triplets, or other "multiples"

Keep in mind, if your doctor says "no sex," that may include anything that causes sexual arousal and orgasm. For example, nipple stimulation and oral sex would be off limits. If you're at all unsure of what's "allowed" in your case, be sure to ask your doctor.

Changing Sexual Desires During Pregnancy

Sex during pregnancy is likely to feel different -- and may need more creativity than usual to feel good. Some women find their desire waning. Others feel more deeply connected to their sexuality and more aroused. Over the 40 weeks of pregnancy, it's normal for sexual desire to come and go as your body changes. You may feel self-conscious as your belly grows. Or you may feel sexier with larger, fuller breasts.

Open communication with your partner is key. You may need to play with positions, especially later in pregnancy, to find one that's both comfortable and stimulating for you.

Avoid lying flat on your back in the "missionary position" for sex after the fourth month of pregnancy. That way you can avoid the weight of the growing baby constricting major blood vessels.

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Another way to make sex more comfortable is to try lying sideways together. Or you might try positioning yourself sitting or lying on top.

Safe Sex During Pregnancy

To be safe, pregnant women should avoid high-risk sexual behaviors. Here are some important precautions: The absolute safest route, of course, is to avoid sex if your partner has a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as HIV, herpes, genital warts, or chlamydia.

These infections can be transmitted to your baby during intercourse. Some couples choose to use condoms and practice safe sex.

Avoid sex or use condoms if you're not absolutely sure about your partner's sexual history and there's a possibility of an unknown or undisclosed STD.

Some experts suggest you should avoid having your partner blow air into your vagina if you engage in oral sex. It could send a dangerous air bubble into your bloodstream.

If you use lubricants, use a water-soluble product such as Astroglide or KY Jelly.

Sex After Pregnancy

  • Healing from an episiotomy (incision during vaginal delivery)
  • Healing from abdominal incisions after cesarean birth
  • Normal postpartum bleeding, common for four to six weeks after birth
  • Fatigue after pregnancy and the birthing process
  • Demands of your newborn (multiplied if you had twins or triplets)
  • Changing hormone levels
  • Sore breasts from breastfeeding
  • Emotional issues, such as postpartum blues, anxiety over parenting, or relationship issues with the father
  • Intercourse is generally safe after any incisions have fully healed and you feel the delicate tissues of your vagina have healed. This healing usually takes several weeks. Equally important is feeling emotionally ready, physically comfortable, and relatively relaxed.

Your partner can play a role in helping you feel relaxed, sexually desirable, and open to sexual expression. If there's any question about the healing process or your readiness for sex, talk openly with your partner. Also talk openly with your doctor during your postpartum checkup.

For both you and your partner, patience is a virtue. Given the realities and stresses of early parenthood, it can take up to a year for a couple's normal sex life to return in full bloom.

Is sex safe? Are certain positions off-limits? What if I’m just not in the mood? Get the answers to your questions about pregnancy and sex. Just talking about pregnant sex can be a delicate subject. Dads-to-be may fear that certain sexual positions will harm the baby.

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