Dear Doc | How safe is sex during pregnancy?
Q Dear Doc, I want to know if sex is safe during pregnancy. I want to do it, but my partner keeps telling me it’s not safe and that it will harm the baby, who will see his penis. Can you please help me and him to know if it is okay to or not?
A That is a very common concern for many pregnant couples, especially the part about the baby seeing the penis. I have also been asked about poking the baby with the penis or sperm squirting into the baby’s eyes. Whenever I am asked such things by my patients, I always apologise for laughing, then explain as follows.
The safety of having sex during your pregnancy is dependent on if your pregnancy is healthy. If it is a healthy pregnancy, YES! You can have sex, and you and your partner can use positions that are safe and comfortable throughout pregnancy.
First of all, if you are having a normal pregnancy, sex will not hurt your baby. The fluid around the baby (amniotic fluid), the muscular walls of your uterus and your abdomen all protect and cushion your baby. Additionally, your cervix has a mucous plug that also helps to keep your baby safe. The mucous plug is a mass of mucous that blocks the opening of the cervix, so your partner’s penis will not make contact with your baby during sex, nor will the baby see it, nor will sperm get to the baby.
When is sex not safe during pregnancy?
\Sex is not safe during pregnancy if you have certain pregnancy complications now or if you have had them in the past. Discuss the safety of sex in your pregnancy with your doctor if you have any of the following:
- You are pregnant with twins, triplets or more.
- You had a miscarriage in the past, or you’re at risk of having a miscarriage in this pregnancy.
- You had a premature baby in the past, or you are at risk of having preterm labour in this pregnancy.
- You have an incompetent cervix, which is a common cause of preterm labour and miscarriages. This is when the cervix opens too early during pregnancy.
- You have a low-lying placenta which covers all or part of your cervix (placenta previa). This can cause serious bleeding and other complications in your pregnancy.
If you have none of the above, but after having sex you have heavy bleeding, painful cramps, or leaking amniotic fluid, call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
Even though sex is safe for most women during pregnancy and does not hurt your baby, you should still take measures to protect your baby from certain infections you can get during sex. To help keep you and your baby safe, protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs can cause problems for your baby during pregnancy and delivery. If you are going to have sex during pregnancy, have sex with only one person, who doesn’t have other sex partners, and do not have sex with a partner who may have an STI.
Which sex positions are best during pregnancy?
Sexual positions that work before pregnancy and in early pregnancy may become uncomfortable or even unsafe during the later stages of your pregnancy. For example, lying flat on your back (the missionary position) after the fourth month of pregnancy can put pressure on your major blood vessels because of the weight of your growing baby.
You may try these positions instead:
- You (woman) on top. This position puts you in control of how fast, how slow and how comfortable you are during sex.
- Spooning. Lay sideways with your partner lying behind you. Having sex in this position helps lower the amount of pressure placed on your belly.
- Woman on hands and knees. This position works best during the first and second trimester because it lowers the pressure placed on your belly. As your belly gets bigger, you may find this position uncomfortable.
Sex is a healthy part of a loving relationship with your partner, but if you and your partner are still uncomfortable, or if your doctor says it is unsafe for you to have sex during your pregnancy, you don’t have to have sex to be loving with your partner. There are other ways you can be close with your partner such as:
- Mutual masturbation
- Oral sex