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Health & Pregnancy

Sex During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

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Sexual Positions During Pregnancy

“As she grows, the traditional man-on-top position is more uncomfortable for pregnant women,” Foreman says. Other, more comfortable sexual positions during pregnancy may include intercourse from behind or side-to-side (spooning).

And “at some point, a pregnant woman should not be flat on her back because the growing uterus can compress major blood vessels,” Salasche says. This can cause pelvic pressure and pain. This phenomenon typically occurs during the third trimester. Lying flat on her back can also cause "supine hypotensive syndrome," which results in a change in heart rate and blood pressure that can lead to dizziness and other symptoms or signs.

One sexual act to avoid during pregnancy is blowing during oral sex, Foreman adds. “If oral sex is performed on the pregnant woman while blowing air into the vagina, the woman can develop an air embolus, which can travel to the lung and have potentially fatal consequences.”

Reasons to Avoid Sex in Pregnancy

Sex during pregnancy may not be safe for women with a history of repeated miscarriages, preterm labor, bleeding, or an incompetent cervix (a condition in which the cervix effaces and dilates without contractions in the second or early third trimester, when the baby’s weight puts increasing pressure on it), she says.

That’s not all. Women with placenta previa (a condition where the placenta is covering the cervix) are at risk of hemorrhaging if they have sex during pregnancy. Women with premature rupture of membranes (PROM), which occurs when the sac containing the developing baby and the amniotic fluid bursts or develops a hole before labor, should also avoid sex during pregnancy, Salasche says.

“If there are not any contraindications, a woman can have intercourse throughout her whole pregnancy,” Foreman says.

Other red flags that sex during pregnancy may not be wise may occur after intercourse. “If you have bleeding or foul-smelling discharge after sex during pregnancy, tell your doctor right away,” she says. Discharge may be a sign of an infection that can travel upward to the uterus, and bleeding may be a sign of a problem in general.

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