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Sex During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Have fun, listen to your body, and be open with your partner.

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.

Pregnant women should also be aware that if their partner has an STD, they still need to use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, to protect themselves.

“Most people think, ‘I am pregnant, I don’t need contraception,‘ but you still need a barrier method for protection against STDs,” says Manju Monga, MD, the Berel Held Professor and the division director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston.

Let’s Talk About Sex During Pregnancy

“We discuss intercourse in the general prenatal discussion because a lot of women feel uncomfortable bringing into up,” Foreman says. “We tell them what is and isn’t OK.”

“I do bring up sex during pregnancy when it is contraindicated,” says Monga, who sees mainly high-risk patients. “Physicians who see low-risk pregnant patients on a day-to-day basis discuss sex at the first prenatal visit, but I tend to see women later in their pregnancy, when they develop complications.”

The bottom line when it comes to sex during pregnancy is “to have fun, listen to your body, and be open with your partner,” Salache says.

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Reviewed on March 12, 2009

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