30 April 2004

Having sex during pregnancy

So how safe is it to have sex if you are pregnant? What are the things you should keep in mind? Health24's sexologist answers these questions.

So how safe is it to have sex if you are pregnant? What are the things you should keep in mind? Health24's sexologist answers these questions.

Unless there are complications with the pregnancy, it's safe to have sex because the foetus is protected by a cushioning sac of amniotic fluid that surrounds it. Think of an egg from the store: your baby is like the yellow yolk part in the middle of all that egg white.

Hormonal changes can affect sex drive
Now, pregnancy can affect sex in other ways. For example, hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy often influence a woman's moods, which could alter her desire to have sex. For some couples, nausea, physical discomfort, weight gain, and changes in energy levels may present challenges to sex and the enjoyment of it.

As a result, an expectant couple may want to discuss experimenting with many different sexual positions, as well as try other ways to have pleasure in case one of the partners does not want to have intercourse. Changing positions is important because some women may experience sex differently while they're pregnant; what they found pleasurable before conception may no longer be the case. That's why it can help for the woman to listen to her body and act appropriately. This is particularly true if a woman has any pain or uterine bleeding, or if her "water is broken," in which case she'll need to avoid sexual intercourse or penetration altogether and see a health care provider right away.

Communication is vital
It's also essential to consider and respect emotional and psychological boundaries to sex during pregnancy in order for both partners to feel safe and comfortable with their decision. Talk openly with one another throughout the pregnancy (as well as at other times, too). What do each of you want emotionally? Some men may continue to feel uneasy or fearful of hurting the foetus during sex even if they know it's not possible. What about physically? With normal weight gain from pregnancy, some women may develop insecurities about their bodies and feel less desirable to their partner. How about sexually? One partner may want to have sex more often than the other, who may feel pressured or "obligated" to maintain a sex routine that predates the pregnancy. Discussing these issues, while respecting each other's concerns, could help bring about some sort of resolution.

It almost goes without saying that your midwife or obstetrician should be able to advise you on many of these matters.

(Dr Elna McIntosh, Health24 sexologist)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.