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Here's Why You Should Avoid Oral Sex If You Have Placenta Previa

Can you make bed rest a little more interesting? Experts weigh in.

If you’re already on bed rest because of placenta previa, you may be hoping you can do more than binge Netflix while you’re in between the sheets. Your doctor has probably told you not to have sex, because vaginal penetration can cause dangerous bleeding if you have placenta previa — but maybe you’re trying to find a work around (and who could blame you). So, can you have oral sex with placenta previa? Surely that would be gentler since it doesn’t involve penetration and it could give you some relief if you experience pregnancy horniness. Here’s what medical experts had to say about whether oral sex is permissible with placenta previa.

What is placenta previa?

It may help to have a better understanding of what placenta previa is first in order to know your options when it comes to having sex when you have placenta previa.

When you become pregnant, your body produces the placenta, an organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to your baby and also clears your baby’s waste through the umbilical cord that connects the placenta to the baby. Your placenta attaches to a wall of your uterus — optimally high and far away from the cervix, which is where the baby will exit your uterus. Placenta previa occurs when the placenta attaches very low in the uterus, covering the cervix either partially or completely.

Your cervix is a short canal that leads from the inside of your uterus to your vagina. The cervix dilates during labor to create an opening for your baby to be pushed out. Placenta previa is a risky condition for both you and your baby because if your placenta is covering the cervix, there’s no way for your baby to come out vaginally. It can also cause a significant amount of bleeding, says Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., OB-GYN.

Can you have oral sex if you have placenta previa?

But, is it OK to have oral sex with placenta previa? The answer is, unfortunately, no. “Much like penetrative sex, oral sex is also not recommended in women with a placenta previa. Orgasm can stimulate bleeding as can any brisk pelvic activity,” Abdur-Rahman says. He adds that some episodes of bleeding will stop without intervention but some instances are heavy and persistent enough to potentially put your life and your baby’s life at risk. Because of this risk, “You absolutely should not have sex in any form if you have a placenta previa,” says Abdur-Rahman.

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Early signs of placenta previa

How do you know if you have placenta previa? Health care providers can usually identify the condition at your anatomy ultrasound screening about halfway through your pregnancy, says family nurse practitioner Jacqueline King. Early signs of placenta previa may involve vaginal bleeding — ranging from spotting to heavier bleeding — and sometimes abdominal pressure, vaginal pressure, or lower back pain. However, she says many women don’t feel any symptoms at all, as placenta previa doesn’t typically cause pain.

As always, check with your doctor or health care provider if you’re concerned that you may have placenta previa. If you are diagnosed with the condition, know that any form of sex is out, be it intercourse, oral, or anal, and even masturbation, because an orgasm can cause you to bleed heavily. The good news is that when you deliver your baby, you will also deliver the placenta. Once that happens, you will no longer have placenta previa, so there is an end in sight. Be safe and enjoy that Netflix marathon until it’s time to deliver that baby.

Sources interviewed:

Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., OB-GYN, author of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pregnancy (But Were Too Afraid or Embarrassed to Ask, and one-half of TwinDoctorsTV.

Jacqueline King, APRN, family nurse practitioner.