Love Child: Sex During Pregnancy
Is sex really safe -- and satisfying -- when you're pregnant?
Question: I am nearly seven months pregnant. I can't stop thinking about sex! Is this normal?
For some women, being pregnant feels about as sexy as those stretchy
maternity pants: not at all. For others, raging hormones, swollen breasts, and
a newfound focus on the body is enough to put them "in the mood" for
nine solid months.
If you're pregnant and raring to go -- and have your obstetrician's blessing
and partner's interest --- by all means, enjoy yourself. But if the thought of
sex makes you queasy, remember that all pregnancies are different, even for the
same woman, and sexual responses are just as varied.
Some couples worry about whether having intercourse will hurt the baby or
wonder if the baby can feel it. In healthy pregnancies, the uterus is an
amazingly protective environment and provides a fairly thick barrier between
the baby and the world outside --- even when the "outside" involves the
inside of the vagina.
But certain situations may mean sex during pregnancy isn't wise. If you are
at risk for preterm labor, your doctor may ask you to cut back on sexual
activity or to monitor yourself for contractions after sex. Your doctor may ask
you to stop having sex if you have certain problems during pregnancy such as
vaginal bleeding or problems with your cervix or placenta.
That doesn't necessarily mean you can't enjoy many sexual activities. Using
your hands or mouth on your partner might offer just the right sensation when
intercourse is off-limits due to a complication such as early contractions or
spot bleeding. While orgasms can cause uterine contractions, research indicates
that in normal pregnancies, orgasms with or without intercourse don't lead to
preterm labor or birth.
Pregnant couples should adapt their sexual positions. After five months,
resting on the back can decrease the blood supply to the uterus. Sex positions
such as side positions that support the abdomen or with her on top --- which
doesn't put pressure on the abdomen --- may be safer. Of course, pregnant women
should always avoid lying directly on their abdomens.
No matter what sexual challenges you may face during pregnancy, these
obstacles won't last forever. And sex may be different in many ways after your
bundle of joy arrives. For one, giving birth changes a woman's body, for better
and worse. The plus side? The blood supply to the pelvis increases-that's
generally good news for achieving orgasm. The downside is that the vaginal
opening may be stretched and looser after giving birth vaginally, possibly
decreasing sexual sensations for both partners. Regular Kegel exercises ---
repeatedly flexing and releasing the vaginal opening --- can help restore
What's important is that you and your partner keep communicating your
desires (or lack thereof) during and after a pregnancy. Like your new baby, a
relationship must grow and change to maintain its good health --- sexually and