There are a lot of things that pack benefits for pregnant women. Prenatal vitamins are encouraged, as well as drinking plenty of water and staying active. But sperm? Look, all most pregnant women care about when it comes to sperm is that it did its job in fertilizing an egg. But that doesn't mean it goes away once you're knocked up. Whether you're super into sex or managing to do the deed once every couple of weeks, you might be wondering, is sperm good for you while pregnant? I mean, if pregnancy sex itself is encouraged, surely there are some benefits to sperm.
I know — you're already suffering from morning sickness and if I say sperm one more time, you're going to lose it. Not all sexual relationships involve sperm, but if you're in a heteronormative relationship and your partner carries sperm, sex with them could potentially do more than just relax you. If there's sperm involved, the sex could actually lower your risk of some pregnancy complications.
In a study conducted in 2000 and published in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology, a connection was found between swallowing sperm during oral sex and a decreased risk of developing preeclampsia, a pregnancy condition associated with protein in your urine and high blood pressure. Apparently, the study found that a mother's body can have something of an allergic reaction to the fetus and that it can leave women with an increased risk of preeclampsia. But by swallowing your partner's sperm (assuming your partner is also the biological parent of your child), your body builds up a "tolerance" to the DNA of your partner (and therefore your baby), decreasing your risk of developing the complication.
Super bizarre, right? But don't worry. If you're not feeling up to oral, intercourse with your partner could also give you the same benefits. A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who spent less than four months being with their partner and using contraception before conception had an increased risk of preeclampsia compared to women who had been with their partners for more than 12 months before conceiving.
Still not convinced? While anything that lowers your risk of preeclampsia is worthwhile, sex during pregnancy can also lower your stress levels and make you a healthier mom-to-be. Sarah Winward of Your Downtown Doula tells Romper that not only can sperm potentially be beneficial for softening and ripening your cervix to prepare for labor, but it can also just make you feel good. "There is also the added benefit of feeling more relaxed after having sex," Winward says. And relaxation? Well, it's essential to pregnancy. A 2015 study published in the journal, Endocrinology, found that stress can affect the microbes in your vagina, which can then affect your baby's gut and brain development, increasing their risk of disorders like autism and schizophrenia.
In short — have some sex. You know, if you feel like it. But keep in mind, sperm is not the only way to prevent preeclampsia and you shouldn't use sperm as your only protection. But if you're up for sex and your partner has some sperm readily available, feel free to make it part of your intimate moments.