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    Pregnancy Sex Guide: Sex Positions During Pregnancy

    Updated 14 April 2020 |
    Published 15 July 2019
    Fact Checked
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    Pregnancy affects your body in many different ways, including your sex drive. While some women experience a spike in sexual desire, others observe a drop. Here, Flo explores options for enjoying an active and healthy sex life during pregnancy.

    Can you have sex while pregnant?

    In most cases (namely, with normal, low-risk pregnancies), it’s totally safe to engage in intercourse until the end of your last trimester. In fact, pregnant sex is a safe, pleasurable way of de-stressing and bonding with your partner. However, in the presence of specific conditions, your doctor may advise you to avoid sex. These include:

    • Vaginal bleeding
    • Leakage of amniotic fluid
    • A history of preterm labor, miscarriage, or incompetent cervix (i.e., the cervix dilates prematurely)
    • Placenta previa (the placenta partially or fully covers the cervical opening)

    In these instances, it’s wise to seek medical advice before having sex during pregnancy.

    Pregnancy sex in the first trimester

    The early months of pregnancy are when most women endure morning sickness, fatigue, and nausea, leading them to put sex on the back burner. But as long as you’re feeling up to it, there’s no reason you can’t have sex during the first trimester.

    Can sex harm your baby?

    Contrary to what you may have heard, pregnant sex does not harm your baby. In a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy, the fetus is well-protected by amniotic fluid and a mass of muscles. Furthermore, the mucus plug that forms over your cervix protects against infection.

    Changes in sex drive

    Although some women notice an increased sex drive at this time, others feel like avoiding it completely.

    During pregnancy, a surge of sex hormones (primarily estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) increase blood flow to your pelvis. It also enhances vaginal lubrication and heightens sensitivity, which could translate to quicker sexual arousal.

    However, the onset of morning sickness, fatigue, and sudden weight gain may have a negative effect on sex drive. The same can be said of the often psychologically overwhelming nature of pregnancy.

    First-trimester pregnancy sex positions

    In the absence of medical complications, it’s safe to have sex in any position. As your belly grows, however, certain pregnant sex positions might feel more comfortable than others.

    Causes of spotting after sex

    Spotting, or very light bleeding, is a common occurrence in the first trimester that generally isn’t a cause for concern. Pregnancy leads to tenderness and sensitivity in the cervix, which might be irritated by deep penetration.

    Spotting should be no more than a few drops of blood. But if the flow is heavy enough to soak through a panty liner, consult your doctor. This symptom may point to placenta previa or an ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg attaches itself outside the uterus).

    Pregnancy sex in the second trimester

    As your second trimester approaches, you’ll probably notice your morning sickness and fatigue subsiding. Meanwhile, a rise in estrogen and progesterone levels might produce a surge in sex drive. For most pregnant women, this is the most comfortable period for having sex.

    Second-trimester pregnancy sex positions

    As your baby bump continues to grow, consider trying these sex positions while pregnant:

    • Spooning: Lay sideways on the bed curled into a C position. You partner faces your back and curls around you, penetrating you from behind. It’s an intimate position that’ll be particularly comfortable late in your pregnancy.
    • Edge of bed: Lay face up on the edge of the bed with your feet planted on the floor. Your partner then stands or bends over you. This option allows for deep penetration, so clearly communicate the pace and depth you prefer.
    • Woman on top: Also known as “cowgirl position,” it allows you to straddle your partner while they’re on their back. It keeps the pressure off your belly and puts you in control. It’s ideal for early pregnancy when your belly size isn’t causing back pain.
    • Side-by-side: You and your partner lay sideways, facing each other. Your partner then slips their leg over your bent leg, and penetrates you. This is another great option to try in the late stages of pregnancy.

    Which positions to avoid

    There’s no one position that’s entirely off-limits, but be sure to avoid direct pressure on your stomach or lying on your back for extended periods. Missionary, lap, and turtle positions may also begin to feel uncomfortable as your belly expands.

    Oral sex while pregnant

    It’s safe to engage in oral sex during pregnancy with a monogamous partner who is free of STDs such as genital herpes. A word of caution, however – do not allow your partner to forcibly blow air into your vagina, which might create a rare but serious condition. An air bubble could form in the bloodstream and lead to an embolism.

    Pregnancy sex in the third trimester

    Unfortunately, fatigue often makes a comeback in the third trimester, potentially altering your sex drive again. It’s also when your belly will be at its biggest. If you’re still comfortable with it though, feel free to continue having pregnancy sex. Just remember to steer clear of positions that place pressure on your stomach, encourage deep penetration, or irritate your cervix.

    Third-trimester pregnancy sex positions

    Pregnancy sex positions like spooning and side-by-side, mentioned above, are your best bet at this point. As with the second trimester, be careful to avoid missionary, lap, and turtle positions, which could be problematic. 

    Spotting in the third trimester

    Spotting issues may also reappear in the final trimester of pregnancy, usually after deep penetration. Light bleeding is to be expected so do not be alarmed unless the flow of blood starts to intensify. If this occurs, make an appointment to see your doctor.

    Can sex induce labor? 

    It’s true that the oxytocin released by your body following nipple and genital stimulation can trigger uterine contractions. And the prostaglandin hormone contained in semen is also known to soften the cervix. Despite this, there’s very little evidence to support the claim that sex during late pregnancy will induce labor.

    Having sex while pregnant is a pleasurable experience for most women, and it’s a safe activity to engage in right up until your due date. As long as you discuss it openly with your doctor and take proper precautions, you’ll be able to enjoy an active and healthy sex life.

    History of updates

    Current version (14 April 2020)

    Medically reviewed by Dr. Anna Targonskaya, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (15 July 2019)

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