Pregnancy is often a beautiful and transformative time for women, though it can also bring about uncertainty, particularly when it comes to sex. Despite feeling hesitant or fearful of engaging in sexual activity during this time, pregnant women should be aware that there are numerous benefits to having sex while pregnant.
Here are some reasons why pregnant women can feel comfortable with sex:
- Stress relief: Pregnancy can be a stressful time, with a lot of physical and emotional changes happening all at once. Engaging in sexual activity can help reduce stress and anxiety, thus improving your overall well-being.
- Mood improvement: During pregnancy, your hormones can be all over the place, which can lead to mood swings and irritability. Engaging in sexual activity can release endorphins and other feel-good chemicals, which can boost your mood and make you feel happier.
- Better sleep: Many pregnant women struggle with getting enough sleep, whether due to physical discomfort or anxiety about the upcoming birth. Engaging in sexual activity can help you relax and fall asleep more easily, thus improving your overall sleep quality.
- Improved relationship with partner: Pregnancy can be a challenging time for relationships. Engaging in sexual activity can help strengthen the bond between you and your partner and provide an opportunity for intimacy and connection during a time when you may feel disconnected from your body.
However, it is also important to note that there are some exceptions to the general rule that sex during pregnancy is safe and healthy.
When to avoid sex in pregnancy?
- Placenta Previa: Placenta previa is a condition that occurs when the placenta grows in the lower part of the uterus, covering the cervix, which makes vaginal delivery impossible. If you have placenta previa, your healthcare provider may advise you to avoid sexual activity completely. This is because sexual intercourse may cause bleeding, which can pose a risk to the health of both you and your baby.
- Cervical Incompetence: Also known as an incompetent cervix, is a medical condition where the cervix is weak and unable to stay closed during pregnancy. This can increase the risk of premature birth or miscarriage. If you are diagnosed with cervical incompetence, your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding sexual activity altogether, as it can cause the cervix to dilate, which further increases the risk of premature birth or miscarriage.
- Unexplained heavy vaginal bleeding: If you experience unexplained heavy vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in sexual activity. Sexual intercourse can cause further bleeding, if the placenta is low or there is a collection of blood (haematoma).
- Ruptured membranes: If your water has broken or if you have ruptured membranes, sexual activity can introduce bacteria into the uterus, increasing the risk of infection. Therefore, it is generally recommended to avoid sex until after delivery in this situation.
If you are considering having sex during pregnancy, there are a few things to take note of:
- Talk to your doctor: Before engaging in sexual activity, it is important to talk to your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you and your baby. They may advise you to avoid sex if you have certain medical conditions or complications.
- Try different positions: As your belly grows during pregnancy, certain sexual positions may become uncomfortable or difficult. Experiment with different positions to find what works best for you and your partner.
- Take it slow: During pregnancy, your body is going through a lot of changes, and you may feel more tired or uncomfortable than usual. Take things slow and listen to your body’s cues.
- Practice safe sex: It is important to practice safe sex during pregnancy to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other complications. Use a condom to reduce the risk of STIs, and avoid sex if either you or your partner has symptoms of an STI.
- Watch for signs of preterm labor: If you have a history of preterm labor or have been advised by your doctor to avoid sex, watch for signs of preterm labor such as contractions, vaginal bleeding, or pelvic pressure. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
- Be aware of warning signs: While sex during pregnancy is generally safe, certain symptoms may indicate a problem. These include vaginal bleeding or discharge, cramping or contractions, or a decrease in fetal movement. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Sexual activity is generally considered safe and beneficial for both the mother and baby during pregnancy, if there are no high-risk complications or concerns. Pregnant women should not be afraid of engaging in sex and can continue to have a fulfilling sex life throughout their pregnancy.
Nonetheless, it is essential for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare provider to obtain personalised guidance based on their unique circumstances and to address any concerns or uncertainties they may have regarding sexual activity during pregnancy.
Reviewed by Dr Shilla Mariah on 23 April 2023.
Dr Shilla Mariah
Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Shilla Mariah Clinic For Women
A wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Women’s & Children’s Medical Group
11 Tanjong Katong Road
Tel: +65 6970 7710
Dr Shilla is an O&G specialist of the Singapore Women’s & Children’s Medical Group. Her practice includes management of pregnant woman & childbirth, as well as a range of gynaecology issues such as abnormal PAP smears, period problems, ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis and infertility.
Dr Shilla graduated with honours from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2008. She completed her housemanship at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin in 2009, and specialist training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore where she spent 7 years.