Sex during pregnancy: What's OK, what's not

Has pregnancy spiked your interest in sex? Or is sex the last thing on your mind? Either way, here's what you need to know about sex during pregnancy. By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you want to get pregnant, you have sex. No surprises there. But what about sex while you're pregnant? The answers aren't always as obvious.

Here's what you need to know about sex during pregnancy.

Is it OK to have sex during pregnancy?

As long as your pregnancy is proceeding normally, you can have sex as often as you like — but you might not always want to.

At first, hormonal fluctuations, fatigue and nausea might sap your sexual desire. As your pregnancy progresses, weight gain, back pain and other symptoms might further dampen your enthusiasm for sex.

Your emotions might take a toll on your sex drive, too.

Concerns about how pregnancy or the baby will change your relationship with your partner might weigh heavily on your mind — even while you're eagerly anticipating the addition to your family. Fears about sexual activity harming the baby or anxiety about childbirth might team up to sap your sex drive. Changes in your self-image might play a role as well, especially as your pregnancy progresses.

Can sex during pregnancy cause a miscarriage?

Although many couples worry that sex during pregnancy will cause a miscarriage, sex isn't generally a concern. Early miscarriages are usually related to chromosomal abnormalities or other problems in the developing baby — not to anything you do or don't do.

Does sex during pregnancy harm the baby?

Your developing baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in your uterus, as well as the strong muscles of the uterus itself. Sexual activity won't affect your baby.

What are the best sexual positions during pregnancy?

As long as you're comfortable, most sexual positions are OK during pregnancy.

As your pregnancy progresses, experiment to find what works best. Rather than lying on your back, for example, you might want to lie next to your partner sideways or position yourself on top of your partner or in front of your partner.

Let your creativity take over, as long as you keep mutual pleasure and comfort in mind.

What about oral and anal sex?

Oral sex is safe during pregnancy. If you receive oral sex, though, make sure your partner doesn't blow air into your vagina. Rarely, a burst of air might block a blood vessel (air embolism) — which could be a life-threatening condition for you and the baby.

Generally, anal sex isn't recommended during pregnancy. Anal sex might be uncomfortable if you have pregnancy-related hemorrhoids. More concerning, anal sex might allow infection-causing bacteria to spread from the rectum to the vagina.

Jul. 24, 2012 See more In-depth