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The Naked Truth The Sexual Health Blog

Sex during pregnancy

September 8th, 2011 by Emily Gangwer, Care Advisor

Emery Co. Photo

Myths, facts and what you need to know


We all know that pregnancy is a time of physical and psychological changes that also affect sexuality and sexual activity. Physical changes ⎼ from morning sickness to awkward bulkiness ⎼ may inhibit sexual desire. Hormones reach new levels which can also affect sexuality, and some couples fear that having sex could somehow hurt their unborn baby.

But for most couples, sexual activity during pregnancy is perfectly safe…and even inspires some couples to spice up their sex lives with new positions that better accommodate a pregnant belly.

In fact, HealthNews recently reported that many women enjoy sex more during pregnancy…especially in the second trimester when tiredness, dizziness and morning sickness are less of an issue. Moreover, increased blood flow to the vagina ⎼ and a different mix of hormones coursing through the system ⎼ can cause some women to experience an orgasm more easily (or for the first time) during pregnancy.

Now, to some useful specifics…
What sexual positions are recommended during pregnancy? That’s ultimately up to you and your partner…but the popular “missionary” position (man-on-top) becomes increasingly difficult with a growing, pregnant belly.

Additionally, doctors caution women from lying on their backs as their abdomens grow. Why? Because it can put pressure on the blood vessels along the back of the abdomen, decreasing blood flow to mom and baby.

Instead, doctors encourage woman-on-top, or both partners on their sides…like spooning, with the man entering the woman from behind. That said, doctors warn against anal sex and rear-entry vaginal intercourse when the woman’s uterus and pelvis are above the level of her heart…in rare instances, this can cause a potentially dangerous air embolism (also a possible risk during oral sex) which can be life-threatening to mom and baby.

What’s most important about sex during pregnancy? Keep the lines of communication open with your partner…and your doctor.

Remember, pregnancy affects sexual intimacy for both partners…so it’s important to talk openly about each others fears, frustrations or concerns. And to approach sex with creativity and a little patience until you and your partner discover new ways to sexual enjoyment.

One more thing to keep in mind…
What about STD prevention during pregnancy? If you haven’t already talked with your partner about STDs, your pregnancy is reason enough to do so now…to protect your baby and yourself. It’s especially important to avoid a new herpes infection (HSV-1 or HSV-2) during the last three months of pregnancy. So if you and your partner don’t know each other’s STD status, talk to a doctor about testing for both you so that you can get treated ⎼ if needed ⎼ and ensure a safe and healthy delivery.

Bottom line? Sex is typically safe during pregnancy, but there can be exceptions. Talk to your doctor just to be sure there aren’t any exceptions for your particular situation.

Photo: Flickr user Emery Co. Photo, CC 2.0

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