For some pregnant women, sex is the last thing you want to do. You’re vomiting, you don’t feel sexy, and you’re tired. You just want to eat all the donuts available, is that too much to ask?
For other pregnant women, your hormones are flowing and even the breeze touching your arm turns you on. You’re pretty sure everyone in this donut shop knows you’re thinking about sex right now.
Although it’s not talked about often, sex during pregnancy is totally natural. Sex is very safe for uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies, which is true for most women. The fetus is well protected by muscles in the uterine walls and abdomen. Imagine an egg nestled in between several pillows.
So how does sex during pregnancy work?
Like anything with sex, it takes practice. It’s normal to be unsure how to work this changing body of yours. It might take time to figure out how to have satisfying sex while pregnant, and that’s OK. The most important thing is to listen to your body, have fun, and continue to have open, honest communication with your partner as you figure this out together.
Just like sex while not pregnant, the same steps apply to stay safe and healthy. If either partner has a sexually transmitted infection, always use protection. If you experience friction or discomfort from a barrier method, lube eases sensitivity.
The basic rule of thumb with sex during pregnancy is that as long as you’re comfortable and have your doctor’s sign-off to orgasm, you are good to go. You will know when something does not feel right (signs to look for later in this post).
Your sexual desire may change throughout your pregnancy and positions that were once comfortable may no longer be. But that’s what keeps it exciting, right? As your body changes, you will learn what works. You might choose to avoid missionary style past a certain point in your pregnancy. Think about the last time you had a very large meal (the day they refilled the candy bowl at work, remember?). Did you want someone pushing on your bloated stomach afterward? No thank you.
For some pregnant women, missionary is actually unsafe. For 10 percent of pregnant women, lying flat on the back causes the weight of the uterus to push on the largest vein of the torso, restricting blood flow, and causing low blood pressure and dizziness. Nothing kills the mood like the spins. Don’t let this fend you off from trying sex. This condition (supine hypotensive syndrome) is rare. Ninety percent of women can safely enjoy missionary throughout their entire pregnancy.
If missionary isn’t your style, side-to-side or “spooning” sex is a comfortable option for most pregnant women. If vaginal sex altogether isn’t quite working for you right now, oral sex can be a great alternative. Giving (including swallowing semen) and receiving oral sex is completely safe while pregnant. The one important thing to keep in mind is avoiding blowing into the vagina. If an air bubble enters a vein or artery it can cause heart, stroke, or respiratory failure. The likelihood of this happening is very slim, but better to be safe.
Anal sex might be uncomfortable during pregnancy, but is totally safe, as long as you clean up in between vaginal and anal sex to avoid passing bacteria into the vagina. This could infect you and the pregnancy.
Sex toys are also totally safe, but the typical rules apply: always clean toys after each use. Silicone toys that don’t vibrate can be boiled for five to 10 minutes or put in the top rack of the dishwasher. For the toys that do vibrate, wash with antibacterial soap in warm water.
Sex while pregnant takes trial and error—you and your partner will figure out what works best for you. If at any point during sex something doesn’t feel right or you’re uncomfortable, communicate with your partner. You know your body. Listen to unusual symptoms like spotting, bleeding, changes in vaginal discharge, cramping, or pain. These can be sign that something else might be going on and it’s good to consult your doctor.
Otherwise, have fun, get creative, laugh if things get funky, and embrace this new sexual experience with your partner. You are beautiful and sexy.