There are a lot of myths and fears about having sex in pregnancy. Sex in pregnancy is perfectly safe and a healthy element to a relationship. Penetrative sex specifically will not harm your baby in any way; the baby will not come into contact with your partner’s penis/ finger/ any object as the cervix is between the vagina and the uterus.
Some women find that they have a greater desire for sex during pregnancy due to changes in hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) and increased blood flow to their breasts and genitals. Vaginal secretions can also increase in pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Equally, some people will not feel like having sex when pregnant or at certain times during their pregnancy for a multitude of reasons: discomfort, changes in the relationship with their changing body, stress, feeling tired or nauseous (to name a few). Listen to your body and do what feels good.
When you orgasm there is a surge of the hormone oxytocin. This is the same hormone that makes your uterus contract in labour. However, this does not mean having sex will make you go into labour if your body is not ready to. There is no evidence that having sex in pregnancy causes premature labour. You may experience what are known as ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions after orgasm. The muscles in the uterus tighten and go hard. It can be a strange sensation so if worried try to use relaxation techniques to relax until it passes.
It is safe to use a vibrator or sex toys in pregnancy. If you have been told specifically to avoid penetrative sex then this applies to using toys as well. Follow the same rules that you would when using these in a non-pregnant state! Wash after use, read the instructions.
If having sex with a new partner it is important to still use condoms/ barrier methods to avoid sexually transmitted infections, as these can be particularly dangerous for an unborn baby.
When it is not recommended to have sex in pregnancy:
- If you have had any heavy vaginal bleeding. Having sex may cause further bleeding or may be related to a low-lying placenta.
- If your waters have broken as it may increase the risk of infection. Remember there is a mucous plug that seals the cervix and keeps your baby’s environment sterile, so if your waters have broken this protection is no longer present.
- If you have a history of cervical dysfunction or weakness (when the cervix struggles to stay closed during pregnancy). You would only know this if you have experienced this in a previous pregnancy.
- If you don’t want to have sex!
Speak to your midwife or doctor if you have any questions or concerns about having sex in pregnancy.