It is common for couples to wonder whether sex is safe when they discover they are pregnant. Unless your health care provider advises you otherwise, sex during pregnancy is safe for both you and your baby. The baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in the womb, by your abdomen, and by the mucus plug which seals your cervix and helps guard against infections.

When is sex during pregnancy NOT safe?

Sex is safe during pregnancy unless your health care provider has indicated that you have a high risk pregnancy. Although there are few reasons to avoid sex during pregnancy, there are some situations when your health care provider may indicate that sex should be avoided. These situations include:

  • History of premature birth or labor
  • History of miscarriage
  • If your water has broken
  • If you experience unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • If you have placenta previa, or a very low-lying placenta
  • If you have an incompetent cervix or if it has dilated
  • If you or your partner has a sexually transmitted disease

What changes are expected with sexual activity during pregnancy?

Sexual practices may not have to change during pregnancy. However, because of the different changes that occur in your body, you may want to make some changes to make things more comfortable. Here is some information to consider when thinking about sex during pregnancy:

  • Exhaustion, hormonal fluctuations, tender breasts and self-consciousness about weight gain can bring your sex drive to a halt. Sometimes you may need rest to regain energy – give yourself a break.
  • The common missionary position may become uncomfortable and warrant considering other positions such as side by side or with you on top.
  • As your breasts increase in size, they may become more tender or sore. Encourage your partner to explore other parts of your body and to find other ways to caress you. With the changes in your breast it is best to avoid direct nipple stimulation.
  • There is increased blood flow to the pelvic area that can lead to engorgement of the genitals and heighten the sensation; however, for some women this can be more uncomfortable.

Unless your health care provider tells you otherwise, you and your partner should be able to enjoy sex during your pregnancy. Pay attention to your body and make adjustments so that you can enjoy the experience to the fullest.

Last Updated: 07/2006

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 5.

Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Introduction.

Last updated: 12/2006