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Sex during pregnancy

What's on and what's not

16 january 2012 | yours.ie

One thing you can be sure of during pregnancy is that there will be changes in your sex life. Many parents-to-be have questions about what is normal for couples during pregnancy. Open communication with your partner is the key to a satisfying sexual relationship during pregnancy.

couple kissing bedroom
pregnant woman bed

Is sex safe during pregnancy?

During all stages of a normal pregnancy, sex is considered safe. A normal pregnancy is one that is considered low-risk for complications such as miscarriage or early labour. Just because sex is considered safe during pregnancy doesn’t mean you will want it. A lot of women find that their sexual desire fluctuates during pregnancy. Many women also find that sex can become uncomfortable as their pregnancy progresses.

There are two sexual behaviours that are not safe during pregnancy.

  1. You need to make sure that during oral sex your partner doesn’t blow air into your vagina. This can cause an air embolism which can be potentially fatal for both mother and child.
  2. You should not have sex with your partner if they have a sexually transmitted disease such as herpes, genital warts, Chlamydia. These diseases can be transmitted to your baby and you.
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If any complications are anticipated with your pregnancy you may be advised to abstain from sexual intercourse. Some of the common risk factors include:

  • History of or threat of miscarriage
  • Indications of a risk of pre-term labour
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding or cramping
  • Leaking of amniotic fluid
  • Placenta previa
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Multiple fetuses

Can sex during pregnancy harm the baby?

The baby is fully protected by the amniotic fluid that surrounds it. There is also a thick mucus plug that seals your cervix during pregnancy. The penis does not come into contact with the fetus during sexual intercourse.

sexual couple bedroom

What sexual positions are best?

During pregnancy you need to find whatever works for you. There are a number of sexual positions that are more comfortable as your body expands and these include: woman on top, spooning, hands and knees or lying on your side with your knees pulled up.

Is it normal for the sex drive to change during pregnancy?

Many pregnant women will find that during the first trimester symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness and the increasing urge to urinate will decrease their sex drive. During the second trimester these symptoms tend to subside and some women find that their sexual desire increases.

Don't forget!
You should always contact your doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms after sex, such as pain, bleeding or discharge. If you have contractions that seem to continue after sex you should also contact your doctor.

Many women also find that sex is more fulfilling during pregnancy and they have a renewed sense of closeness with their partner. Sexual desire usually decreases again during the third trimester as the reality of what is about to happen sets in. This along with the increase in body size can make sex very unappealing. A lot of men also avoid sex during the last trimester as the reality of a baby becomes very real.

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