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Sex in Pregnancy

Well clearly the two are related, but is sex during pregnancy OK or are there potential problems with engaging in amorous activity while you are pregnant?

When should sex be avoided during pregnancy?

Reassuringly, there are only a few circumstances when a doctor may advise a pregnant woman to avoid intercourse during her pregnancy.

  • Preterm Delivery (before 37 weeks)
    • In women who have a low risk of premature delivery and who have no symptoms of vaginal infection, there is no evidence that sexual activity increases the risk of a preterm delivery
    • In women who are at higher risk of preterm delivery (history of preterm births, twin pregnancy, history of cervical incompetence), even though the evidence is not strong, your doctor may advise against intercourse while pregnant due to the potential increased risk of preterm delivery.
  • Placenta Praevia (placenta lying close to or over the cervix)
    • If the placenta has implanted close to or covering the inner opening of the cervix, there is the theoretical risk of bleeding being caused by the “mechanical forces” of intercourse disrupting the placental edge. Again your doctor may advise you to avoid intercourse in this case.

Are there any other potential complications of sex during pregnancy?

Pregnancy does not prevent infection, so the usual precautions against sexually transmitted infections should be taken and any symptoms should be investigated.

Can sex be used to bring labour on at term?

There is no evidence that sex around the due date will bring labour on, but there are no harmful effects if the pregnancy is low risk.

When is it OK to start having sex again after baby is born?

There will be some individual differences depending on the circumstances of the birth (natural birth or caesarean, perineal injury etc.) which make generalisations difficult. As a rule, it is OK whenever the woman who has given birth feels comfortable to resume. Partners should be patient and supportive and understand that discomfort is not uncommon when sex is resumed. Persistent difficulties should be discussed with your doctor.

The above information doesn’t take the place of a medical consultation so please seek further advice if you have further concerns.

Ref: Jones C et al. Sex in Pregnancy. CMAJ, April 19, 2011, 183(7)

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