Sex During Pregnancy: Is it Safe to Have Sex During Pregnancy?

When it comes to sex and pregnancy, the majority of information available focuses on sex for couples trying to get pregnant, particularly for those couples who are experiencing infertility.

However, for women who are now pregnant, whether or not sex during pregnancy is safe can be a central concern. Is it safe for women to have sex while they’re pregnant, and are there certain instances in which intercourse during pregnancy should be avoided?


Should You Have Sex During Pregnancy?

If you are having a normal pregnancy, intercourse is considered to be safe during all three trimesters. A normal pregnancy is one in which there is a low risk for complications, such as miscarriage and pre-term labor.

This is because sex does not directly harm the developing fetus, which is protected by the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac is a thin, enclosed bag that holds the baby as well as surrounding fluid. The uterine muscles also help protect the baby, as does the mucus plug, which seals the cervix in order to shield the baby from infection. Therefore, the penis cannot come into contact with the fetus during sex.


When Sex During Pregnancy Isn’t Safe

However, sex is unsafe if you are having what is considered to be a high-risk pregnancy. Some of the most common risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy include:


  • history or risk of miscarriage
  • history of pre-term labor (meaning that you’ve previously given birth prior to 37 weeks) or signs of premature labor (contractions)
  • amniotic fluid leakage
  • incompetent cervix, a condition in which cervix dilates prematurely, which increases the risk of premature delivery or miscarriage
  • placenta pervia, a condition in which the placenta hangs very low and covers the cervix (the opening to the uterus)
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding, discharge or cramping
  • having twins or multiple babies

If your doctor, nurse-midwife or health care provider identifies that one of the above factors relates to your pregnancy, you will generally be advised to abstain from sexual intercourse during pregnancy.


Unsafe Sexual Practices for Pregnant Women

There are two types of sexual practices that are not safe for pregnant women, regardless of whether their pregnancy is considered high risk or low risk. These unsafe practices are:

  • If you have oral sex, your partner should not blow air into your vagina. Blowing hot air into the vagina can cause an air embolism, that is, a blocked blood vessel that occurs due to an air bubble. This can be fatal for both mother and baby, and has been linked to several deaths.
  • You should not have sex with a partner whose sexual history you do not know, or who may have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as herpes or HIV. If you become infected, the disease can be transmitted to your baby.


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