Are condoms necessary?
Exposure to sexually transmitted infections during pregnancy increases the risk of infections that can affect your pregnancy and your baby's health. Avoid all forms of sex — vaginal, oral and anal — if your partner has an active or recently diagnosed sexually transmitted infection.
Use a condom if:
- You're not in a mutually monogamous relationship
- You choose to have sex with a new partner during pregnancy
Can sex trigger premature labor?
Orgasms, as well as the prostaglandins in semen, can cause uterine contractions. Most studies haven't shown that sex during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of preterm labor or premature birth. However, if you’re at risk of preterm labor your health care provider will recommend avoiding sex.
Similarly, sex isn't likely to trigger labor even as your due date approaches.
Are there times when sex should be avoided?
Although most women can safely have sex throughout pregnancy, sometimes it's best to be cautious.
Your health care provider might recommend avoiding sex if:
- You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
- You're leaking amniotic fluid
- Your cervix begins to open prematurely (cervical incompetence)
- Your placenta partly or completely covers your cervical opening (placenta previa)
- You have a history of preterm labor or premature birth
- You're carrying multiples
What if I don't want to have sex?
That's OK. There's more to a sexual relationship than intercourse.
Share your needs and concerns with your partner in an open and loving way. If sex is difficult, unappealing or off-limits, try another type of contact — such as cuddling, kissing or massage.
After the baby is born, how soon can I have sex?
Whether you give birth vaginally or by C-section, your body will need time to heal. Consider waiting to have sex until your health care provider gives you the green light — often four to six weeks after childbirth. This allows time for the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and any tears or repaired lacerations to heal.
If you're too sore or exhausted to even think about sex, maintain intimacy in other ways. Stay connected during the day with short phone calls or text messages. Reserve a time for each other before the day begins or before you go to bed.
When you're ready to have sex, take it slow — and use contraception until you're ready for any subsequent pregnancies.
July 31, 2015
See more In-depth
- Johnson CE, et al. Sexual health during pregnancy and the postpartum. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2011;8:1267.
- Lockwood CJ, et al. The initial prenatal assessment and first trimester prenatal care. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- Tulandi T, et al. Definition and etiology of recurrent pregnancy loss. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Month 6 (weeks 21-24). In: Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010.
- STDs & pregnancy — CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/STDFact-Pregnancy.htm. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- Butler Tobah Y (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 27, 2015.