The first trimester is not always blissful. You're probably nervous about a lot of things, and on top of that, your hormones are all over the place. If you're feeling especially amorous, sex can be a great escape from worry, but a terrible pregnancy-message-board theory about an orgasm in the first trimester causing a miscarriage tends to keep a lot of pregnant people from having fun.
I understand the concern. I mean, orgasms were once called "la petite mort" or "the little death." It's an encompassing sensation that almost feels too big for pregnancy — like it could be unsafe. Such a systemic reaction seems like it could cause as much harm as it does fun, doesn't it?
Thankfully, most women can have sex and have as many orgasms as they like, regardless of where they are in pregnancy. Dr. Jeanne S. Sheffield, Division Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Johns Hopkins, tells Romper, "There is no data saying that [an orgasm can cause a miscarriage]. We do not advise women to avoid orgasm." Science backs this up — from the day that embryo implants in your uterus until the day you go into labor, orgasms are a safe pregnancy activity so long as your OB-GYN or midwife has given the go ahead, according to The Mayo Clinic.
That doesn't mean you'll want to have sex, or have to do it — it just means that you can. And there's good science as to why orgasms may benefit you during pregnancy not just emotionally, but physically as well, according to Parents. But it will also ease your mind to know that a miscarriage, in a healthy pregnancy, can't be triggered by an orgasm. "Most miscarriages occur because of a developing issue with the fetus," family physician Dr. Danielle DonDiego tells Romper. "Orgasms should be avoided if you experience vaginal bleeding, leaking of amniotic fluid, premature opening of the cervix, complications such as placenta previa, or history of preterm labor or premature birth. This should be discussed individually with your obstetrician if you experience any of these."
But once you've got the all clear, you may notice after you have sex, and that resulting orgasm, that you're spotting lightly and cramping. That's completely normal. "Orgasms can result in mild uterine contractions, but it would not be enough to cause a miscarriage in an otherwise normal pregnancy," Dr. Kate Killoran, OB-GYN, tells Romper. The prostaglandins released by orgasm, and the prostaglandins that exist in semen (if you're having sex with a male), can both trigger uterine contractions. Provided they're not intense, and they don't last more than a few hours after you've had an orgasm, it's nothing to worry about. The spotting is due to increased blood supply to the region, especially near the surface. This means that any tiny tear that might happen during sex will likely show up as a bit of spotting on your underwear, or present when you wipe after going to the bathroom. As long as it's not period-heavy it's nothing to worry about.
If you are worried, you should call your provider. Talk it over with them to allay your concerns and to discuss how your sex life may or may not proceed through the pregnancy. It's all about safety and comfort, and the ability to have both.
Dr. Jeanne S. Sheffield, Director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins
Dr. Danielle DonDiego, family physician
Dr. Kate Killoran, OB-GYN
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