How to Sort Through All the News on Pregnancy
Pregnancy and sex continued...
Though it's true that a small amount of substances known to
trigger labor are found in the man's semen -- and that labor-triggering
substances are released when the woman's nipples are stimulated and during
orgasm -- doctors say the risk of labor isn't high enough to warn most women
and their partners against making love in the weeks prior to their term (37
"We found no evidence that sexual activity in late
pregnancy increased a woman's risk of preterm delivery between 29 and 36 weeks'
gestation," reports Amy E. Sayle, PhD, lead author of a study published in
the February issue of the journal Obstetrics &amp; Gynecology.
Moore agrees. "For a generally healthy woman with a
generally uncomplicated pregnancy, sex is safe -- even late in pregnancy,"
she tells WebMD.
Sayle writes, though, that her study does suggest that a small
percentage of women who have risk factors for preterm delivery could further
increase their risk by engaging in sex. Risk factors for preterm
delivery include having had a previous preterm delivery or other
pregnancy-related problem, contracting certain vaginal infections, having
uterine bleeding during your pregnancy, and smoking, drinking alcohol, or using
Other obstetricians and high-risk pregnancy experts do advise
women at risk of preterm delivery to avoid intercourse. Ask your doctor about
your risk factors and whether or not you should engage in sexual activity.
According to a recent report from the FDA, pregnant women
should avoid eating certain species of large ocean fish including shark,
swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because they may contain harmful mercury
kevels that may harm the nervous system of a developing fetus.
Michele Curtis, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and
gynecology at the University of Texas at Houston tells WebMD that if you eat
seafood, "be aware of what the local health department has said if about
fish in that area." If you are a sushi fan, "make sure that you go to a
reputable restaurant that handles foods properly to minimize the risk of
More importantly, she says, pregnant women should not consume
unpasteurized milk or cheese because it can contain Listeria, which can cause
an infection that can sometimes lead to death of the baby. "Some European
countries don't pasteurize milk or cheese so be wary when traveling in European
countries, " Curtis says.
Aside from the dos and don'ts recently in the news, there are
also some tried and true guidelines pregnant women can follow.
First and foremost, "women should continue to have a
healthy lifestyle during pregnancy just as they did before pregnancy," says
Gideon Koren, MD, director of the Motherisk program, a Canadian organization
designed to provide information to pregnant women and their doctors on
environmental agents and drugs during pregnancy.