sex during pregnancy, premature labor, postpartum sex, sex and pregnancy

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.

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