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You’re probably thinking there only three trimesters of pregnancy, right?  After all, “tri-“ means three but it could mean that there are five distinct three-month periods associated with pregnancy and each one affects your sex life in distinctly different ways.

Sex and the pre-pregnancy trimester: Getting pregnant

Consider this trimester a prep phase, where you prepare the body for conception and when you eventually start getting pregnant.  You’ll want to stop taking contraceptives and stop using other forms of birth control.  It probably won’t hurt to up your dietary game so you and your baby’s daddy are in tip-top health before your egg meets his sperm.  Exercise a little more, break bad habits, start taking prenatal vitamins, and indulge in sex.  Lots of sex.

You will be fertile for only five or six days each month so be sure to have sex at least once on each of these days.  These are the five days leading up to ovulation.  Once you ovulate, the egg is only ripe for fertilization for about 24 hours.  Have sperm in place and ready to do the deed as soon as ovulation occurs.  The babyMed Ovulation Calculator is the perfect tool for identifying your most fertile days.

Are there any specific positions to improve your chances getting pregnant? Let us tell you how to position yourselves best to improve your chances getting pregnant.

Be sure to have sex on infertile days, too.  Recent studies indicate semen causes the cervix to release chemicals that relax the female immune system so her body won’t attack and destroy the foreign DNA in his sperm.  Once these little foreign invaders fertilize an egg, it becomes foreign DNA, too, as do the embryo and fetus.  Semen helps prep the female immune system for a safe pregnancy from conception to delivery.  Apply it lavishly.

When you shouldn't have sex during pregnancy

There are some instances in which sex may need to be restricted. These include the following:

  • Increased risk for a premature delivery
  • History of prior preterm delivery
  • Placenta previa
  • Incompetent cervix (weak cervix)

If you have any questions, we suggest that you discuss these with your doctor, because each individual circumstance is different.

It is safe to have sex throughout pregnancy as long as there is no vaginal bleeding or any other pregnancy complications. If there are any complications, or you suspect that there may be, you should contact your doctor or midwife immediately. 

Can intercourse result in a miscarriage?

Many expectant parents are concerned that intercourse might cause a miscarriage, particularly in the first trimester, but miscarriages are unrelated to sexual activity. There is no proof that sex in pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage. The most common cause of a miscarriage is a genetic defect in the developing fetus. Some infections may be a factor, but they're usually not the result of sexual activity.

Can having intercourse harm the baby?

No. The penis doesn't physically contact the fetus, which is well protected by uterine muscle and amniotic fluid. The cervical mucus plug prevents bacteria and semen from entering the womb. However, you may want to avoid deep penetration if it causes pain.

Can orgasms result in premature labor?

Orgasms may cause uterine contractions. However, the vast majority of studies indicate that in a normal pregnancy, orgasms — with or without intercourse — do not lead to premature labor or premature birth.

Is there any time doctors advise against intercourse during pregnancy?

Your doctor will most likely advise against intercourse if:

  • You are at risk of having a premature birth or labor
  • You have a weak cervix
  • Placenta previa (Where part of the placenta is covering the cervix)
  • Your water has broken
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • You or your partner has an active sexually transmitted disease

Also, if you're expecting twins, your doctor may advise you to abstain from intercourse during the late second and early third trimesters, when the consequences of preterm birth are greatest. Your doctor may also recommend abstinence during the last weeks of pregnancy as a precaution. If you're at all uncertain whether you're at risk, ask your doctor.

Should you use a condom? 

Pregnant women exposed to STDs are at increased risk of infections that can be harmful to their baby and may lead to premature labor. All women who have new or multiple sexual partners, including those who are pregnant, should use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Also, women who are herpes negative but have sex with a herpes positive man are advised to use condoms to prevent becoming infected with herpes during pregnancy. 

How is a woman's sexual desire be affected by her pregnancy?

Decreased interest in sex early in your pregnancy may play a significant role as changing hormones, added weight, and a decrease in your energy level may take their toll on your desire. This lackluster interest may continue through the first trimester when exhaustion and nausea are most likely to occur.

Besides a growing belly that makes intercourse physically challenging, increased fatigue or back pain can dampen your enthusiasm.

However, during the second trimester, you may find your interest changing. Increased blood flow to your sexual organs and breasts may rekindle your desire or even increase your normal interest. You may even experience a moderate feeling of sustained readiness due to the effects of increased blood flow to these areas. As you enter the final trimester, you may find your desire waning again. Besides a growing belly that makes intercourse physically challenging, increased fatigue or back pain can dampen your enthusiasm.

As pregnancy progresses couples may have to experiment with positions which will maximize the woman's comfort, and allow her to control the amount of penetration. If she is experiencing any discomfort, the use of a lubricant might be helpful. Try experimenting with positions that make intercourse comfortable.

How can couples deal with these changes in sexual desire?

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Pregnant women may want affection from their partners without wanting intercourse. Partners, however, may sense that lack of interest as a sign of rejection. It's important to communicate your needs and to discuss other forms of lovemaking, such as oral sex, massage, or masturbation.

How soon after the baby's birth may couples resume intercourse?

There is no set rule for this. The answer varies according to the circumstances of delivery. In general, sexual intercourse can be resumed by the third postpartum week — if you're comfortable and there are no complicating factors. However, one needs to take into consideration vaginal tenderness, and whether sex would be mutually satisfying and pleasurable.

All in all, the needs of the new mother need to be considered. Dads need to be patient and loving, and also give the new mom a break for some time to herself, and to relax and exercise.

If you have questions regarding resuming sexual activity after pregnancy, ask your doctor.

Sex and the first trimester of pregnancy

Don’t stop now.  Sex is as much fun during pregnancy as it was before.  Sex won’t hurt the baby, it can’t hear you, and it isn’t watching.

Your body isn’t changing much yet but your hormones may seem to be going wild.  This wildness makes some women crave sex, makes others shun sex, but most women fall somewhere in the middle.  Just like before, sex will seem more appealing on some days than others.

Breasts and external genitals may swell and become extra sensitive to the touch so be sure to let your partner know how to proceed accordingly.  Nausea, morning sickness, and fatigue may put a damper on how sexy you feel but nothing makes you feel sexier than sex itself, right?

Sex and the second trimester of pregnancy

The second trimester is often described as the feel-good trimester of pregnancy.  The nausea and fatigue of the first trimester usually fade away and energy and enthusiasm return.  What a great time to catch up on sex play that might have been put on the shelf earlier.

You’ll begin to see subtle changes to your body at the beginning of the second trimester but nothing dramatic enough to require big changes to your sex game.  Just do keep at it.

Satisfying sexual activities make sleep come easier and keeps moods brighter.  It also exercises the vaginal muscles so childbirth is easier later on.

By the end of the second trimester, you might find yourself experimenting with new positions as your baby bump becomes a presence that can’t be ignored.  Have fun with exploring new positions and new ways to pleasure each other.  If your pre-pregnancy sex life seemed stuck in a rut, the last half of pregnancy provides perfect incentive to find ways out of that rut.

Sex and the third trimester of pregnancy

By now, your baby bump is impossible to ignore so new positions are almost a given.  Continue to have fun finding new positions and new ways to enjoy your sexuality.  Vaginal intercourse, especially when it brings orgasm, continues to strengthen vaginal muscles and can be done even on your last day of pregnancy.  Satisfying sex continues to promote good quality sleep and lift the spirits.

You may find that stimulation of the breasts and orgasm cause fluid to leak from the breasts.  This is nothing to be alarmed about.  Your body is finalizing the prep work for breastfeeding and sex play causes the body to release the same hormones that will be released when your baby suckles.  Some women prefer to wear a bra during sex in late pregnancy to contain the leaks.

Orgasm may begin to feel different as pregnancy nears the end.  The uterus might spasm a bit but it usually lasts no longer than a minute or so.  These spasms are not contractions so don’t fear sex will induce early labor.  Do contact your physician, though, if any sensations cause alarm.

You may also note spotting or pain after sex due to the baby’s head pressing down on the pelvis as it readies itself for birth.  The pain is often relieved by finding a different sex position but any bleeding should be discussed with your doctor right away.

Sex and the post-pregnancy trimester

After giving birth, your body will need a few months to recover.  Most doctors recommend abstinence from sex for two months or so but will let you know in a postpartum check-up when it’s safe for you to resume sexual intercourse.  Meanwhile, continue to experiment with new and different ways to bring mutual sexual satisfaction without vaginal penetration.  Think of this trimester as two months of non-stop foreplay.

You may think prenatal check-ups are all about the developing baby but they are about your sex life, too.  If your doctor discovers any reason that vaginal sex should not happen, s/he will let you know.  S/he will also answer any sex questions you might have about sex and how it affects your pregnancy.

Don’t be squeamish or too modest to ask questions.  It’s unlikely you will ask or say anything your doctor hasn’t already heard before.  Your doctor wants you to enjoy pregnancy and knows a satisfying sex life is beneficial for pregnancy.  It's beneficial for your body, your spirit, and your romantic relationship, too.

Read More:
Pregnancy and Sex Guide
Men and Sex 
Sex Myths