Is It Safe to Have Sex During Pregnancy

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

When it comes to having sex during pregnancy, it is absolutely the last thing that comes on the mind of pregnant women. Even sexually active women, who become pregnant, worry about sex during pregnancy. It’s completely safe to have sex during pregnancy if there’s no complication, but if you are unsure, ask your doctor and understand the possible risks that apply, conditions that may prevent you from having sex, and safe positions to have sex during pregnancy.

How Safe is it to Have Sex During Pregnancy?

In most normal pregnancies, it is safe to have sex. With a quick look at the female anatomy, it is clear to see that the penis doesn’t go past the vagina during sexual intercourse, so there is plenty of distance between any discharge and the uterus. Furthermore, the uterus provides plenty of padding for the growing fetus, provided you are having mild to moderately vigorous sex. The amniotic sac in which the baby develops is also quite strong, and the mucus plug at the base of the cervix prevents any infection from affecting the growing child. [1]

That being said, there are still the normal risks of having sex, particularly the transfer of a sexually transmitted disease. Contracting a sexually transmitted disease while pregnant can be complicated, as medication and other treatments may be required to ensure the safe delivery of the child. If having sex with a new partner or one that has a sexually transmitted disease, contraception is highly recommended (e.g., condoms, dental dams, diaphragms, etc.)

Pregnant woman lying awake in bed with a sleeping man beside her

What many people do not know about pregnancy is the insomnia that follows it. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Can Sex During Pregnancy Cause a Miscarriage?

In a normal, low-risk pregnancy, sex cannot cause a miscarriage. In fact, sex is generally considered a healthy and safe activity while pregnant, which can reduce stress levels and release “feel-good” hormones in the body. If you are having sex during pregnancy, there may be some mild vaginal bleeding or spotting, but this should be temporary, and normal. If this bleeding continues, seek medical attention immediately. [2] [3]

The fear of a miscarriage while having sex during pregnancy likely stems from the uterine contractions that often accompany an orgasm. These contractions happen every time a woman orgasms, but with the additional pressure in that area of the body, including increased blood flow to those engorged tissues, the contractions can feel more intense. However, there are certain conditions that may prevent you from having sex while pregnant.

Does Sex During Pregnancy Harm the Baby?

Sex during pregnancy does not harm the baby in any way, provided you aren’t suffering from placenta previa, leaking amniotic fluid, vaginal bleeding, a history of preterm labor, cervical incompetence, or are carrying multiples.

Placenta Previa

This is a condition where the placenta partially blocks the opening of the cervix, and can have a number of complications. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, sex may be prohibited, based on the recommendation of your doctor. [4]

Vaginal Bleeding

While small amounts of vaginal bleeding or spotting are normal following sexual intercourse, consistent or regular bleeding may be indicative of a more serious problem, and may make sex dangerous during pregnancy. [5]

History of Preterm Labor

If you have had premature births in the past, there is an increased chance that sex during intercourse will result in complications or a preterm birth. Speak to your doctor before having sex if this applies to your medical history. [6]

Cervical Incompetence

This condition is characterized by the cervix beginning to open prematurely, which could expose the fetus to possible infections or fluid passage during sexual intercourse. [7]


If you are carrying multiples (e.g., twins, triplets), it can increase the risks of having sex during pregnancy, as this will not only make the physical act of sex more uncomfortable, but the feeling of fullness or pressure in the vagina may be much more intense. [8]

Can Having Sex Trigger Labor?

Research has shown that even sex late in the pregnancy term does not trigger labor to begin. While anecdotal evidence has often pointed to having sex as a good way to trigger or stimulate labor, the data doesn’t show this correlation. Similar to the fear of miscarriages, the fear of triggering labor is because the sensation of an orgasm includes a strong contraction of the uterine muscles, similar to the feeling of labor pains. However, if any of the above conditions affect your pregnancy, it is best to speak with your doctor before attempting to have sex late in your pregnancy. [9]

Recommended Positions to Have Sex During Pregnancy

Due to the weight gain and other bodily changes, it can be difficult to find a comfortable position for sex during pregnancy. Some of the best suggestions include side-by-side on an angle, with a woman on top, side-by-side from behind, from behind, or on the edge of the bed.

  • Woman on Top
  • Side-by-Side from Behind
  • Side-by-Side on an Angle
  • Edge of the Bed
  • From Behind

When Should a Pregnant Woman Stop Having Sex?

A pregnant woman should not have sex when diagnosed with any specific condition like a constant pain, a discharge, or a lack of desire to have sex.

Lack of Desire

Sexual desire in women fluctuates drastically. Some women may be completely turned off by the idea of having sex, while others may feel that the flush of hormones has dramatically increased their sex drive. If you feel uncomfortable with having sex, this is something you should definitely speak to your partner about, as these psychological obstacles are quite common. [10]

Pain or Discharge

If you experience consistent pain or find any discharge from your vagina following sex, it could indicate that there is something more serious going on. You should avoid having sex as long as these symptoms persist, and should also get a check-up done by your doctor, just to ensure that everything is progressing normally.

Specific Conditions

Most of the conditions listed above (placenta previa, cervical incompetence etc.) will result in your doctor prohibiting sex during your pregnancy term. These instructions are critical to the health of both the mother and child. [11] Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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