Pregnancy / 28 September, 2017 / Etienne Horner

The #TBT Debate: Can You Enjoy Sex When Pregnant?

This Thursday, we are reposting a 2012 expert piece from Dr Etienne Horner. We ask whether you can enjoy sex when pregnant and is it safe?

Can I have sex throughout my pregnancy?

Yes, you can have sex throughout unless there is a medical condition which we generally advise not to have penetrative sex; this could be bleeding, shortening of cervix, preterm labour, low line placenta. I also generally advise to be careful and maybe avoid penetrative sex in the first trimester if women had difficulties to get pregnant (fertility treatment) or have lost many pregnancies in the past. However I always mention that penetrative sex does NOT lead to a pregnancy loss or even to vaginal infections or to pre term contractions.

Could I harm the baby in any way?

Not at all as the baby is well packed within the uterus; no sexual position is at risk to harm the baby however women prefer to have sex later in pregnancy being on top then in classical missionary position. To lie sideways is also quite a good position as the partners weight is completely of the uterus.

Is oral sex safe?

Absolutely; no reason in pregnancy to not have oral sex if this is preferred by the couple. This might even be a good alternative to penetrative sex if women feel less comfortable or men are worried to harm the baby.

The tummy goes hard like a shell during orgasms

Orgasms are experienced very differently during pregnancy; they might be less powerful and even might be more difficult to reach. Whilst experiencing an orgasm the muscles of the uterus could lead to spasms which will only last for a short period of time like Braxton hicks. They are in the same category and not harmful for the baby and will not lead to pre term labour.

Can it really bring labour on or is that an old wives tale?

Penetrative sex generally won’t bring on labour during pregnancy. It might help to bring labour on at term with increasing oxytocin release when women experience an orgasm or with the prostaglandins in the semen. However there is lack of evidence and therefore it might just be coincidence.

How long do I have to wait after having a baby?

Generally I advise to wait until the postnatal check up at around 5-6 weeks after the birth. Women will have a vaginal examination and hopefully be reassured that the cut or tear has healed well and it should not be a problem to start having penetrative sex again. I find it very important to re assure women and often discuss as well that the first time after having had a baby can be difficult as women and partners are usually very nervous as they feel it could not work as before.


Etienne Horner Obstetrician & Gynaecologist



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