Pregnancy

Mallika Wiriyathitipirn / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Can You Have Sex With Placenta Previa? Experts Explain

Everything to know about how to do it safely.

With all that extra pressure in the pelvic area from your growing baby, pregnancy can make people feel a little bit friskier than normal. Orgasms can be more intense, and sex can be much more fun when you’re pregnant — especially if you have the right moves. But what if you have certain medical conditions such as placenta previa or if you’re on bed rest? Can you have sex with placenta previa? There are so many rules and restrictions during pregnancy in general. It would be great to still enjoy some pleasures and to be able to scratch that primal itch whenever you want, but the fact is, you do need to be cautious with certain pregnancy conditions.

What is placenta previa?

First, a little anatomy lesson: Your cervix is a short canal that leads from the inside of your uterus to your vagina, and it’s the cervix that dilates during labor so the baby can come out. The placenta is the organ that develops inside and attaches to your uterus. It also includes an umbilical cord that serves as the conduit for oxygen and nutrition for your baby and also removes waste from the baby’s blood.

The placenta usually attaches along the upper walls of the uterus, away from the cervix, which is at the bottom. Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta covers the part of your cervix that’s inside your uterus, Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., OB-GYN, explains. When the placenta covers the cervix, not only does it prevent a normal vaginal delivery, it also increases the risk of significant vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, he says.

Flavia Morlachetti/Moment/Getty Images

Can you have sex with placenta previa?

Unfortunately, the health risks of placenta previa are serious and make having sex dangerous. “The biggest risk with placenta previa is the risk of heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding which can put both the mother and baby’s life at risk and can necessitate delivery preterm,” says Abdur-Rahman. “As a general rule, nothing should be placed in the vagina when a placenta previa is present.”

Having an orgasm can also stimulate bleeding from the placenta, he hadds. “You should absolutely not have sex in any form if you have placenta previa,” he says.

There’s also a theory that orgasms can provoke uterine contractions, adds family nurse practitioner Jacqueline King, which could potentially cause the cervix to dilate and resultant bleeding to occur.

Can you masturbate with placenta previa?

Unfortunately, because orgasms can cause contractions — and potentially cause the cervix to dilate — having some alone time with yourself is out as well if you have placenta previa. “Both masturbation and orgasm can stimulate bleeding from the placenta which can be life threatening,” Abdur-Rahman says.

Early signs of placenta previa

How do you know you have placenta previa? The most common sign that you may have placenta previa is bleeding during your pregnancy. The amount of bleeding can range from light spotting to quite heavy — even heavier than a menstrual period. Less commonly, placenta previa can also be associated with cramping or pelvic pressure, Abdur-Rahman says. You may also feel some low back pain, adds King.

Placenta previa is often associated with no symptoms at all, however, and is instead typically discovered during a routine ultrasound examination, Abdur-Rahman says.

The bottom line? Inserting anything into the vagina is a strict no-no if you have placenta previa. But, unfortunately, any sexual activity is risky if you are dealing with this condition. Having an orgasm can stimulate heavy and prolonged bleeding and could potentially put your life and the baby’s life at risk.

Sources interviewed:

Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., OB-GYN

Jacqueline King, APRN, family nurse practitioner.