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Sex during pregnancy

Advice for having sex throughout your pregnancy including how pregnancy affects your body and staying safe while having sex.

Most pregnant women can have sex right up until their due date. If you have had pregnancy complications such as threatened miscarriage or bleeding from your vagina, you should get advice from your obstetrician or midwife before having sex.

You will not hurt your baby by having sex. The baby is protected by the amniotic sac (a bag of water around the baby). There is a thick mucus plug at the neck of your womb (cervix) that will also protect the baby.

Sex positions when pregnant

As your pregnancy advances, some positions may become uncomfortable.

For example, sex with your partner on top can become uncomfortable early in your pregnancy. It may be better to lie on your sides, either facing each other or with your partner behind.

Changes to your body that can affect sex

Your libido or sex drive may change at different times during your pregnancy. This is normal. The pregnancy hormones may mean you have more desire for sex than usual. At other times, the hormones, combined with tiredness and other factors, may mean that you do not feel like having sex.

During the pregnancy you may experience sensations more intensely during sex. This could be due to hormones and also to changes in blood flow around your genitals. This can make sex more intense and pleasurable. For some women this increased sensation can be uncomfortable. Communication with your partner is key, especially if you are feeling uncomfortable.

Your breasts will become larger and heavier during pregnancy. They may become more sensitive and may feel tender at times. You may no longer enjoy having your breasts touched during sex.

Sex to induce labour

There is no evidence that having sex around or after the time of your due date will induce labour. It is safe to have sex close to the time of your due date, but never have sex if you have bleeding from your vagina or if your waters have broken.

Pregnancy complications and sex

Sex in pregnancy is safe for most women. However, you may be advised to avoid sex if you have any heavy bleeding or a low-lying placenta. If you are pregnant and have been told that you have haematoma, you may be told to avoid sex. A haematoma is a collection of blood. Sometimes haematomas can occur in the womb during pregnancy. Sex may be uncomfortable when you have a haematoma and may cause bleeding.

Are oral and anal sex safe during pregnancy

Anal sex is usually safe during pregnancy. If you have piles (haemorrhoids) it may be uncomfortable or you may bleed from the back passage. If you have anal sex with your partner, then vaginal sex, there is a risk of introducing harmful germs into your vagina.

Oral sex is usually safe during pregnancy. Do not receive oral sex from your partner if he or she has a cold sore on or around their mouth as this could spread the cold sore (herpes) virus to your genitals. This can cause complications during pregnancy and birth. Also do not allow your partner to blow into your vagina.

Do I need to use a condom when having sex

Always use a condom if you are having sex with a new or casual partner during your pregnancy. If you or your partner have sex with other people (for example in open relationships), you should use a condom. If your partner has any symptoms of STIs (discharge, blisters or warts on his penis) use a condom for vaginal, anal and oral sex.

page last reviewed: 15/03/2018
next review due: 15/03/2021