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Sex during pregnancy: What's OK, what's not
Are condoms necessary?
Exposure to sexually transmitted infections during pregnancy increases the risk of infections that can affect your pregnancy and your baby's health.
Use a condom if:
- Your partner has a sexually transmitted infection
- You're not in a mutually monogamous relationship
- You choose to have sex with a new partner during pregnancy
Can orgasms trigger premature labor?
Orgasms can cause uterine contractions, but these contractions are different from the contractions you'll feel during labor. Orgasms — with or without intercourse — aren't likely to increase the risk of premature labor or premature birth.
Similarly, sex isn't likely to trigger labor even as your due date approaches.
Are there times when sex should be avoided?
Although most women can safely have sex throughout pregnancy, sometimes it's best to be cautious.
Your health care provider might recommend avoiding sex if:
- You have a history of preterm labor or premature birth
- You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
- You're leaking amniotic fluid
- Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence)
- Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervical opening (placenta previa)
What if I don't want to have sex?
That's OK. There's more to a sexual relationship than intercourse.
Share your needs and concerns with your partner in an open and loving way. If sex is difficult, unappealing or off-limits, try another type of contact — such as cuddling, kissing or massage.
After the baby is born, how soon can I have sex?
Whether you give birth vaginally or by C-section, your body will need time to heal. Many health care providers recommend waiting four to six weeks before resuming intercourse. This allows time for your cervix to close and any tears or a repaired episiotomy to heal.
If you're too sore or exhausted to even think about sex, maintain intimacy in other ways. Stay connected during the day with short phone calls, email messages or text messages. Reserve a few quiet minutes for each other before the day begins or while you're winding down before bed.
When you're ready to have sex, take it slow — and use a reliable method of contraception if you want to prevent a subsequent pregnancy.Previous page
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- Johnson CE, et al. Sexual health during pregnancy and the postpartum. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2011;8:1267.
- Lockwood CJ, et al. The initial prenatal assessment and routine prenatal care. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 23, 2012.
- Tulandi T, et al. Definition and etiology of recurrent pregnancy loss. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed April 23, 2012.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010.
- Hutcherson H. What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex. New York, N.Y.: Berkley Publishing Group; 2002:253.
- STDs & pregnancy - CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm. Accessed April 30, 2012.