Intercourse During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of many changes for both partners, including changes in their sexual relationship. You and your partner may experience different emotions and feelings, so communication is as important now as always. You may have questions or concerns about sexual behavior during pregnancy. The following information addresses some general questions about sex during pregnancy.

If a woman is in good health, she can have intercourse and orgasm with complete safety throughout her pregnancy. The fetus is well cushioned by the amniotic fluid that surrounds it. A healthy woman with a normal pregnancy can continue to have intercourse into the ninth month of pregnancy without fear of injury to herself or to her fetus. Although the basic guide to intercourse during pregnancy is the woman's own comfort there are a few reasons your doctor or midwife may advise the limitation or avoidance intercourse for a period of time. These reasons include, but may not be limited to:

  • History of miscarriage
  • History of premature birth
  • Presence of infection in either partner
  • Presence of multiple fetuses
  • Bleeding with intercourse
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Breaking of the amniotic sac (bag of water) or leakage of fluid from the vagina

During the first trimester, many women experience physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue that may affect their desire to have sex. Urinary frequency is another common occurrence and some women may find that intercourse aggravates the condition. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be less interested in intercourse than you were prior to pregnancy.

Breast tenderness begins in the first trimester and continues throughout the pregnancy. Some women may find breast stimulation extremely uncomfortable while others find it especially pleasurable. Pregnancy can be a wonderful time to experiment with different positions and different forms of intimacy to accommodate your changing body. A variety of intimate activities (kissing, caressing, mutual masturbation, oral sex) may be very enjoyable throughout your pregnancy.

Many of the early discomforts of pregnancy end during the second trimester. Most women experience renewed energy and an increase in sexual desire as the early discomforts of pregnancy lessen. During the second trimester the expectant mother begins to feel more like herself. The vagina becomes more engorged and vaginal lubrication increases as the baby drops lower in the pelvis. Many women say they are more easily aroused and more sexually responsive during this period.

Your partner's weight on your abdomen during intercourse may be very uncomfortable late in pregnancy. Many couples find a side-lying position, either face-to-face or rear entry, is more comfortable. If you feel internal pressure during sex, it is wise to avoid deep penetration.

Using pillows or additional lubrication may relieve some of the discomfort. Intercourse with the woman on top usually results in deeper penetration, although it allows the woman more control of the depth. Breast stimulation may result in the secretion of colostrum (a thin, yellowish fluid) which is normal and harmless, but may be unpleasant for some couples.

Some women prefer to avoid orgasm because the accompanying contractions may be uncomfortable; however, orgasm is not harmful. Understanding, warmth, and support are needed by both expectant parents during the final weeks of pregnancy when stress increases and intercourse may be too tiring or uncomfortable. If you are advised to abstain, oral sex and/or masturbation may be an acceptable alternative to penetrative intercourse. Your partner should not blow into your vagina during oral sex as this can result in possibly life threatening air embolisms.