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Can Sex During Pregnancy Harm My Baby?

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One of the most common concerns couples have while pregnant is whether or not having sex during pregnancy is safe or if they should avoid any sexual activity completely. So, let’s answer some of the most common questions you might have about sex during pregnancy and whether or not it is safe. 

Is sex during pregnancy safe?

Yes, it is absolutely safe to have sex during pregnancy unless your doctor has advised you against having sex. It is very normal to be concerned about the safety of the fetus during sex while pregnant. If you feel anxiety about pregnancy sex, always talk with your doctor about it so they can explain and calm you down about the risks.

Can sex harm my baby?

Between 50% and 80% of pregnant people, and 80% of people whose partners are pregnant report being afraid of harming a fetus during sex. It is a normal fear to have. Sex will not harm the fetus at any stage of a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. 

The fetus is protected by strong uterus muscles, is cocooned behind the cervix, and is surrounded by amniotic fluid. The fetus doesn’t know what’s happening, and won’t feel the penis – you cannot “poke” the fetus with it during intercourse. The fetus could feel the gentle rocking motion, which will probably soothe them. 

Can intercourse or orgasm cause miscarriage or labor?

Many people also worry that having intercourse or an orgasm while pregnant can induce labor or cause a miscarriage. While it’s a common and normal fear to have, research shows that having sex during a healthy pregnancy won’t cause a miscarriage nor will it induce labor. 

It is a known fact that miscarriages are more common in the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, but they are not caused by having sex. About half of miscarriages happen because the embryo isn’t developing properly. It is often out of someone’s control, and not caused by anything a pregnant person did or didn’t do. 

When it comes to inducing labor, having intercourse or an orgasm at the late stages of pregnancy might cause light contractions. These are known as Braxton Hicks contractions, and while they are uncomfortable, they are also completely normal. It doesn’t mean that you are going into early labor. 

Can I have oral and anal sex while pregnant?

Generally, having oral and anal sex is also safe during pregnancy. But there are a few important things to keep in mind. 

With oral sex, if your partner accidentally blows air into the vagina, there is a risk of a very rare and dangerous medical condition called air embolism. Research shows that blowing air into a vagina during pregnancy increases the chances of an air bubble getting into the bloodstream and blocking a blood vessel, which can travel to the pregnant person’s heart or brain. 

Another thing to consider during oral sex is whether or not the giving partner has herpes on their lips. To avoid transmitting the infection (even if the giving partner shows no symptoms) to the fetus during birth, avoid having unprotected oral sex during the late stages of the pregnancy. 

Okay, now let’s talk about anal sex. It is generally safe to have anal sex while pregnant if the pregnant partner is comfortable. Sometimes, pregnant people have pregnancy-related hemorrhoids which can make anal sex uncomfortable and even painful. However, if you don’t experience that, then you’re good to go. 

One thing to be cautious about while having anal sex during pregnancy is switching between anal and vaginal penetration. That can increase the chances of infection, which you want to avoid during pregnancy. To avoid that though, simply use a barrier method when switching between anus and vagina, or make sure to clean the penis or the toy you are using. 

Can I still get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) when pregnant?

Pregnancy doesn’t protect from getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as we already discussed previously about herpes. And getting an infection while pregnant can have serious health risks for the fetus and the mother. So, make sure that you are using protection where needed while having sex during pregnancy – better be safe than sorry!

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You should use a barrier method during sex if:

  • You and/or your partner are in an ethical non-monogamous relationship and have sex with other people whose sexual health history you don’t know
  • Your partner has been diagnosed with an STI or suspect that they might have an STI 
  • You decide to have sex with a new partner whose sexual history you don’t know 

When is sex during pregnancy not safe?

In some cases, having sex with a partner or using a sex toy might not be safe for a pregnant person. According to the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, avoid having sex while pregnant if you experience any of these:

  • Leaking amniotic fluid
  • History of preterm labor
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding, discharge, or cramping 
  • Placenta previa, which is when the placenta partially or entirely covers the entrance to the cervix

It is always best to consult your doctor about any concerns you might have about pregnancy sex. 

What about sex post-pregnancy?

It’s normal to be excited to have sex with your partner after you give birth, especially if you haven’t had much of it while you were pregnant. Before you start having sex post-pregnancy, you should always wait for your doctor to give you a green light.

If your labor was smooth, and you have been recovering well postpartum, then you usually can start having sex again after the six-week postpartum check-up with your OB/GYN. 

Remember, there is no rush to start having sex after you give birth. Many people experience huge body changes, and it might take a while to connect with your new body and find a way to connect with your partner. Be patient and keep an open mind. 

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