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Sex OK During Most Uncomplicated Pregnancies

New Review Answers Many Questions About Sex During Pregnancy
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 31, 2011 -- Is sex safe during pregnancy? Will it bring on labor? Could sex hurt the baby? 

These are some of the many questions that may be on a pregnant woman’s mind (and her partner’s) during prenatal visits with her obstetrician.

A new review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal answers many of those questions. As a general rule, sex in pregnancy is considered safe in women with low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies. Women with or at risk for certain complications such as placenta previa or preterm labor should avoid sex during pregnancy. Placenta previa occurs when the placenta lies low in the uterus and partly or completely blocks the cervix.

“For healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies, it is very safe to have intercourse as long as you are comfortable enough to do it,” says study author Claire Jones, MD, an obstetrician at Mount Sinai Hospital and University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The new report should “relieve some of the fears that pregnant women who are otherwise healthy have, and relieve the fears of their partner, as well, who might be afraid of having sex for reasons that are not really founded.”

The new report answers other questions such as:

Can Sex Bring on Labor?

A common old wives’ tale is that sex on or around your due date can bring on labor. There is little evidence to support this, but sex at term is considered safe, the new report suggests.

When Is Sex OK After Delivery?

After delivery, a woman’s body (and her lifestyle) goes through many changes. Resuming sexual activity after having a baby depends solely on a woman’s comfort level.

“Most women are comfortable to engage in sex by three months,” she says. ”The main reasons people don’t is because of pain. The risk of infection or sex causing stitches to become undone is very low.” 

Most complications occur in the two weeks after delivery, and it is unlikely that women would be comfortable enough to have sex during this time frame, Jones says.

“Don’t be alarmed if sex is painful the first time after delivery, “she says. Lubricants may help relieve dryness, which can occur because of hormonal fluctuations after pregnancy, especially if you are breastfeeding.

Is Oral Sex OK During Pregnancy?

Oral sex during pregnancy that involves blowing air into the vagina should be avoided, as it may increase risk of developing a potentially fatal uterine blood clot, the report suggests.

When Is Sex During Pregnancy Not OK?

Certain pregnancy complications may make sex risky. Mike Adler, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, says “people with placenta previa should abstain from intercourse because we don’t want to cause catastrophic bleeding."

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