The common question of expecting couples is ‘Is sex during pregnancy safe?’ Sex during a normal pregnancy is fine, but some circumstances may force you out of it. Here’s what to expect.
Some couples find pregnancy to be the ideal time to get intimate, while others believe in total withdrawal from sex. Among the inroads to sex include lack of knowledge about its practice, timing and frequency, the fear of hurting the baby, nausea, fatigue, awkwardness and the risk of pregnancy complications. To solve your worries related to sexual activity while you’re pregnant, here are some facts on pregnancy.
Sex is fine when done at the right time
Sex during normal pregnancy is fine. It should be avoided if the pregnant woman has/had a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia), miscarriage history, pursued fertility treatment, excessive bleeding in early pregnancy, abdominal cramps and cervical weakness. The American Pregnancy Association warns against having sex during pregnancy if you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding, “You should never wear a tampon or introduce anything else into the vaginal area such as douche or sexual intercourse if you are currently experiencing bleeding.” Furthermore, sex should be avoided if the male partner has genital herpes as it could have negative impact on the developing foetus.
[Read: Advice for Sex during Pregnancy]
Sex causes no harm to foetus
The amniotic sac (a thin-walled bag occupying foetus and surrounding fluid) and the strong muscles of the uterus shield the baby. Moreover, there is a thick mucus plug sealing the cervix, offering protection against infections. Intercourse during pregnancy carries no risk of miscarriage or any other harm to your foetus. Do not, however, have sex if your water is broken .i.e., your amniotic sac has broken. The book Eldercare Strategies: Expert Care Plans for Older Adults written by Springhouse author states, “If your water has broken, you should not have sex or put anything in your vagina. The bag of waters protects the baby from the infection. Once it has broken the baby can become infected.”
Understanding the sexual urges of a woman is important
Hormonal changes during pregnancy increase the sex drive in some women. The idea of getting intimate may backfire when the partner of the pregnant woman is unable to understand her psychological state and emotional needs. He must understand the hormonal changes that cause sexual urges. She may feel discomfort when made to have sex when she doesn’t want to.
Pregnant women may experience Cramping during and after intercourse
For some women, increased blood flow to the pelvic area increases sexual urge, but they may feel uncomfortable or experience abdominal cramping during or after intercourse.
Sexual drive decreases with each trimester
Several body and mental changes in the woman’s body when she is expecting influences her sex life in some way or the other. The sex drive dips significantly in the third trimester, primarily because she feels she is unattractive.
Hormonal changes affect your sexual desire
The spurt of hormones in your body during pregnancy affects your desire to have sex. Sometimes, you feel too tired to get physically intimate with your partner and other times, your libido takes a nosedive. Going through such an emotionally charge is normal.
Foetus can be affected by STDs
Practice safe sex during pregnancy because sexually transmitted diseases/infections can be transmitted to your foetus. During pregnancy, a woman is more vulnerable to contracting deadly STDs and therefore, unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners during pregnancy should be completely ruled out. The best way to protect yourself against STDs is to use condoms every time you have vaginal, anal and oral sex during pregnancy.
Oral Sex isn’t that Safe
If your partner has oral herpes or can feel blisters and bumps in his mouth, oral sex should be completely avoided. It is because the contact between your vagina and your partner’s tongue can lead to transmission of virus to your foetus and can affect its genitals.
Another important consideration while having sex during your pregnancy is to avoid oral sex which also involves blowing into the vagina. During pregnancy, the vaginal blood vessels that lead to the brain and heart are expanded and blowing air into the vagina can lead to formation of bubbles in the cervix that can reach up to the uterus. This can be fatal for you and your foetus. Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer supports this in her book titled Sex for Dummies by stating that “Oral sex is a good way for the man to give a pregnant woman an orgasm, but he never blow into the vagina. The forced air can make its way into her blood vessels, which are dilated during pregnancy, and that condition can be fatal to the woman.”
Why you should not have sex during pregnancy?
Dr. Ruth also stated that some couples should refrain from having sexual intercourse during pregnancy because of the fear of damaging the foetus by thrusting of the penis and that in most cases, vaginal intercourse does not cause any damage but under certain conditions an expecting couple should refrain from having it. Under the following conditions, doctors advise keeping from engaging in sexual activity during pregnancy.
• Risk of Miscarriage: If you have a history of miscarriage or are at the risk of miscarriage, sex during pregnancy isn’t advised. Miscarriage can be due to the structural abnormalities in the uterus and having sex in such a situation can harm the foetus in the uterus and may lead to loss of pregnancy.
• Risk of Preterm Labour: If you’ve previously delivered a pre-mature baby .i.e., before the 37th week of pregnancy or have experienced signs of preterm labour such as frequent preterm uterine contractions and intense abdominal cramps, avoid having sex during this time.
• Pregnancy Complications: If you have been experiencing vaginal bleeding and discharge for no known reasons, having vaginal intercourse can aggravate your condition. So, having sex during this time is not advised.
• Placenta Previa: In this condition, the placenta which is responsible for an embryo’s nourishment and development shifts down and covers the cervix. If you have sex during this time, the penis may touch the cervix or put additional pressure on it, damaging it and inhibiting the baby’s growth.
• Multiple Foetuses: If you have multiple foetuses (twins or triplets), your gynaecologist will advise you to refrain from having sex during pregnancy due to the lack of enough space in your uterus.
• Incompetent Cervix: a weak cervix or cervix that dilates prematurely raises the risk of miscarriage and preterm labour and having intercourse in such a situation might put you at an increased risk of pregnancy complications.
Sex is undoubtedly the best way to remain intimate and connected with your partner during pregnancy. Having sex while keeping in mind the physical and emotional requirements of your pregnant wife would be best way to prevent any physical or emotional harm to her.
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