Pregnancy is a funny time. Weird things are happening to your body, your hormones are out of whack, and you sometimes have no control over what you’re feeling. If you’re experiencing your first pregnancy, you probably have a lot of questions about what is or is not safe to do in your new state. You know not to lift heavy objects and that sushi is off limits, but is it OK to have sex? Will having sex while pregnant hurt the baby?
There are so many misconceptions and myths about pregnancy and whether having sex during pregnancy is OK. These confusions speak to the misinformation and miseducation about sex and anatomy that runs rampant in our society. The first step to correcting that misinformation is to find out the real deal when it comes to whether or not a roll in the sheets during pregnancy poses any risk to the baby.
Finding out the truth is important not just because people deserve honest and accurate information about their bodies, but because the hormone changes that occur while you’re with child can cause a major spike in libido. And if you want sex, you should know whether or not you’re able to have it.
Is It Safe To Have Sex During Pregnancy?
I spoke with Dr. Leah Torres, an OB-GYN who specializes in reproductive health, and she says it’s “absolutely safe to have sex during pregnancy.” The reason it is safe is because the baby is inside a person’s uterus, and anything inside a person’s uterus, whether it’s a baby or an IUD, is protected by the cervix. Torres describes the cervix as the doorway to the uterus, and while the cervix itself is inside the vagina, it’s a few inches long and creates good distance between the uterus and the vagina itself.
“Unless the cervix is open, nothing can get inside the uterus except for semen or sperm, which is not a danger to an existing baby,” says Torres. She says that the cervix doesn’t usually begin to open until a pregnancy is full-term or a person goes into labor, so before then, you’re free to have sex with your partner as much as you want.
When Is Is Not Safe To Have Sex While Pregnant?
There are, but that is a discussion to be had with your obstetrician or midwife. Torres does give one example of a condition that would make sex during pregnancy unsafe – placenta previa. During placenta previa, the placenta lies over top of the cervix. Because of this, you’d have to avoid any manipulation of the cervix. If the penis, or any penetrating object, hit the cervix, it could also hit the placenta and cause bleeding, Torres explains. She notes that the condition is not common but also not unheard of, and that a pregnant person would be diagnosed with it around 20 weeks into the pregnancy.
Can Sex Really Induce Labor?
Maybe you’ve heard the old wives tale that rolling in the hay can help your labor get started when you’re ready to pop. It’s a popular one, and Torres says that there’s some truth to it. She explains that having an orgasm releases the oxytocin, a hormone that is produced to make the uterus contract during labor. (Pitocin, which is often given to pregnant people to help induce or speed up their labor, is a synthetic form of oxytocin.) She specifies that this doesn’t take effect until the third trimester. So, in theory, having intercourse after 37 weeks of pregnancy could potentially help induce labor.
Anything Else To Know?
Torres has one more piece of advice for pregnant people navigating a sexual relationship. “It’s important to recognize that when people are pregnant, they have different comfort levels with intercourse,” she says. “They may have higher or lower libido, so open communication with partners is really important. Some people who are pregnant don't want to have sex for their own reasons, and those reasons are valid.” That’s pretty solid advice for any relationship.