There are many myths and misconceptions attached to sex during pregnancy. Couples often feel apprehensive about having intercourse when they are expecting a child. Most women experience reduction in sexual desire during the first trimester because of the hormonal changes that take place in the body. Many studies have suggested that women experience an increase in sexual desire with the progression in pregnancy which is again followed by a reduction in the third trimester.
Sex during pregnancy does not carry any risk unless advised otherwise by the doctor. It is considered normal to have sex during pregnancy except in the following cases-
- If the woman has had cervical weakness.
- In case bleeding has occurred previously.
- If the placenta lies low.
- The woman experiences abdominal cramps.
- If the partner is infected by genital herpes.
Benefits of sex during pregnancy
Sex has been considered beneficial for a woman during pregnancy. The feeling of satisfaction promotes better mental health in an expectant mother. In normal pregnancy, there is no evidence that links sex with miscarriage and does not cause any type of vaginal infection. Even if a woman is infected, sexual intercourse in no way intervenes with the treatment. But it is important to ensure that the male partner uses a condom to avoid getting infected. Women having intercourse are at a lower risk of giving pre-mature birth. Orgasms experienced by women have also been associated with lower risk of giving early birth. Some women experience increased fetal movement at the time of orgasm, which happens due to increase heart beat. Also, sex during pregnancy improves physical and emotional intimacy between the couple. Also, having sex is not harmful to the fetus as it is protected by the amniotic fluid and the strong muscles in the uterus. The cervix is protected by a thick mucus plug that acts as a shield against infection.
Towards the end of pregnancy, safe sex can induce labor. The semen has prostaglandin in it which is favorable for maturity of cervix, which in turns increases flexibility of cervix leading to its faster dilation. Also, semen produced by a male during sexual activity has been believed to prevent pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a disorder that occurs during the course of pregnancy, which results in high blood pressure and high concentration of protein in urine. This condition generally occurs during the last trimester and progressively worsens. In extreme cases Pre-eclampsia can lead to lower platelet count, dysfunction of kidney, swelling in body, difficulty in breathing due to accumulation of fluid in lungs. It also is harmful towards the health of both mother and the child.
Having sex during pregnancy decreases the chance of the couple facing sexual problems after the child is born.
How does pregnancy affect quality of sexual intercourse?
How a woman feels about having sex during pregnancy varies from individual to individual. Some women might find it pleasurable whilst for other that may not be the case. Because of pregnancy, the blood flow is increased in the pelvic area, which results in enlargement of genitals, which result in better sexual sensations.
But, some women, also experience less intense orgasm than they normally would or feel less sensitivity in their clitoris area. Also, some women may start finding sex painful when there is deep penetration by the partner. It is best to have intercourse in the position where there is no undue pressure on woman’s abdominal area and the penetration is comfortable for her.
Sometimes during third trimester, some women might experience abdominal cramps after reaching orgasm. Orgasm can trigger off slight contractions but in normal cases they should stop by themselves after sometime.
Some couples avoid penetrative sex and prefer other methods such as foreplay, oral sex or masturbation for sexual satisfaction.
Pregnancy has an effect on the body image of the woman who is expecting. While being pregnant some feel more confident about their bodies, while other might not feel the same with all the major body changes that take place during the pregnancy. Also some women feel extremely fatigued and dizzy hence do not feel like indulging in sexual activity.
Also, the state of mind of a woman affects the level of sexual desire that she experiences. If she is positive about conceiving, it is more likely that the couple will have better sexual relationship even during the pregnancy.
Eventually, sex during pregnancy is completely an individual’s choice. Sometimes, male partners experience lesser sex drive when their partner is pregnant. It can happen due to fear of hurting the unborn child, or due to anxiety about challenges of impending parenthood.
It is advisable for the couple to openly communicate and express what is comfortable for both of them during this phase. In case of any doubts, it is always better to consult a doctor for better understanding of various aspects of pregnancy.