Can I have sex while I'm pregnant?

Can I have sex while I'm pregnant?
Most parents-to-be all over the world worry about this, but if you have a normal pregnancy, you can keep doing it right up until your waters break. There are lots of psychological and physical benefits of sex so pregnancy is not a reason to stop. And you may find that being free from worries about conception and contraception, you feel sexier than ever. Some researchers even think that women who have regular sex during pregnancy may be less likely to give birth prematurely. Having orgasms may also be related to a lower chance of giving birth early.

If you're feeling sexy and well enough, then it's a good thing to keep your sex life going throughout pregnancy. Having satisfying sex during this time is good for your relationship and your sense of well being, both now and after your baby has arrived.

Will sex harm my baby?
Fear of hurting your baby can be one of the most common reasons to avoid sex during pregnancy. You won't hurt your baby by making love, even with your partner on top. The thick mucus plug that seals your cervix helps guard against infection. The amniotic sac and the strong muscles of your womb (uterus) also protect your baby.  If you orgasm, you may notice your baby moves around more. However, this is because of your pounding heart, not because he knows what's happening or feels discomfort.

Are there times when I shouldn't have sex?
Your midwife or GP may advise you not to have sex if you have experienced:
  • Bleeding
  • Abdominal pains or cramps
  • Broken waters
  • A history of cervical weakness
  • A low-lying placenta (placenta praevia), particularly if you have had some bleeding
Although there isn’t strong evidence that sex will make these conditions worse, many doctors will advise you to avoid sex as a precaution.

You may also be advised to avoid sex during pregnancy if your partner has genital herpes. If you catch genital herpes for the first time during pregnancy there's a small risk that it could affect your developing baby.  Frequent sex (more than three times a week) can trigger bladder urinary tract infections (UTIs), particularly if they are something you're prone to. Untreated UTIs can cause problems in pregnancy. If you suspect you have a UTI, you should see your doctor or midwife as soon as possible to have your urine checked. Washing before and after sex (remembering to wash from front to back), and emptying your bladder after sex will help to reduce the likelihood of infection. 

As long as it's not uncomfortable, you can still have sex if you get a vaginal infection but your partner should wear a condom to ensure he doesn't become infected too.

Will sex feel as good during pregnancy?
It depends. It's better for some women, not as good for others.
Increased blood flow to your pelvic area during pregnancy can cause your genitals to engorge, and heighten sexual sensation. But some women report that this leaves them with an uncomfortable full feeling after intercourse ends. 

Many women find that their clitoris is slightly less sensitive during pregnancy or that their orgasms are less powerful. It's also fairly common for women to say they can’t reach orgasm as easily while they're carrying a baby. 

Some mums-to-be find sex painful during pregnancy. This is particularly the case when penetration is deep. Adopting sexual positions where penetration is shallow or under your control (see below) is the best solution.

You may experience abdominal cramps after having an orgasm, as this can set off a wave of contractions. This is particularly noticeable in the third trimester. It can be off-putting, but wait a few minutes and the tightening of your womb will ease, just as with Braxton Hicks contractions.

During pregnancy many couples find that they feel more pleasure from foreplay, oral sex, sex toys or masturbation than from intercourse. So although you may change the way you have sex during pregnancy, it doesn't mean you'll be less satisfied! 

I've gone off sex since I got pregnant. Is this normal?
Yes! The big changes in your body and your life are bound to alter your sex life. Some women are just too tired or feel too nauseous to make love, especially in the first trimester.
Mood changes, backache and sore breasts are some of the other reasons for a diminished interest in sex. Hormonal changes can also cause a loss of libido.
If you suffer from gestational diabetes then you may find that you feel like having less sex or don’t enjoy it quite as much.

Not surprisingly, your state of mind is another factor. If you feel positive about your pregnancy and the changes your body is undergoing, you're likely to feel more sexual. But if you're not particularly happy about the pregnancy or feel insecure about your growing tummy or other issues, this can have a negative effect.  Even if you enjoyed sex during the first part of your pregnancy your sex drive can wane in the third trimester as birth, labour and your belly loom large. Many mums-to-be simply feel unattractive or worried about whether their partner is satisfied sexually. 

At any stage of pregnancy, though, there are wide variations in how women feel and how sexually active couples are. What's normal for one person won't necessarily be the same for you.

Will my partner's sex drive change now that I'm pregnant?
It might. It's not uncommon for men to feel less interested in sex, especially in the third trimester. This doesn't mean that your partner doesn't find you attractive any more. Some men are even turned on more by their partners being pregnant.
Common reasons for lack of desire in dads-to-be include:
·        Fears that sex can hurt the baby
·        Worries about the health of you and your unborn baby
·        Feelings of apprehension about the burdens of parenthood
·        Self-consciousness about making love in the presence of your unborn child
Talking to your partner openly about his fears and explaining that sex is not harmful during pregnancy can be helpful.

Which sexual positions are the most comfortable during pregnancy?
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that the missionary position (man on top) isn't comfortable any more. Try the following instead:
Get on top!

This position has been shown to be associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction in pregnant women. It puts no weight on your abdomen and allows you to control the depth of penetration. Straddle your partner while he’s lying down and sit either facing him or facing the other way. This position also allows him to reach your breasts or stimulate your clitoris to help you orgasm.

Use the bed as a prop. Lie on your back at the edge of the bed with your knees bent, and your bottom and feet perched at the edge of the mattress. Your partner can either kneel or stand in front of you. 

Lie side-by-side in the spoons position. This allows your partner to keep most of his weight off your bump. Rest your top leg over his or place it on a few pillows in front of you. This allows for only shallow penetration so it’s ideal if deep thrusts have become more uncomfortable. If your bump isn’t yet big enough to get in the way, you can also turn around and face your partner in this position.

Get on to your hands and knees in the doggy position. This is a good position for later on in your pregnancy when it's a relief to have weight taken off your back and pelvis. You can also get your partner to reach around and stimulate your clitoris. Penetration can be quite deep in this position. If you find it uncomfortable, ask your partner to thrust less deeply. Getting him to hold a pillow between your bottom and his lower tummy will prevent him pushing too far inside you. 

Sit on your partner. This is another position that puts no weight on your womb (uterus). Try sitting on your partner's lap as he sits on a (sturdy) chair. You can control the rate and depth of penetration by standing up more or by squatting down. This position allows for lots of kissing, cuddling and eye contact. You can also take it easy and let your partner do all the moving. Just take a little of your weight off his thighs first.
Have sex standing up. Lean over a low counter or table with your partner standing behind you. This takes the pressure off your back and pelvis and lets your partner reach around and stimulate your clitoris at the same time. 

Sit on a table or counter. With your partner standing in front of you, wrap your legs around his body for a more intimate experience. Pop a cushion under your bottom to make yourself more comfortable. If you’re in your third trimester you may prefer to lean back a little so your growing bump doesn’t get in the way.

You can have satisfying sex when pregnant, and where there's a will, there's a way! Our slideshow of sex positions during pregnancy will inspire you and your partner to find techniques that work. And keep talking. Communication and openness are the keys to maintaining or improving sexual satisfaction during your pregnancy.

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