Sex during pregnancy

Some men and women find the process of pregnancy adds a new dimension to their sex lives. The physical and hormonal changes, together with the exploration of new ways to have intercourse as the pregnancy advances, can be a real turn on.

With other couples, it’s not so straightforward. Your partner may simply feel too sick and tired for much sex in the early months, and too big and uncomfortable in the later months. Some men worry that having sex may cause problems. There are very few physical or medical problems for which you’re advised to avoid intercourse:

  • If your partner has had previous miscarriages, it may be wise to avoid sex at the time her period would have been due, for the first three to four months
  • If she has had a threatened miscarriage with this pregnancy you may prefer to play safe and avoid intercourse until after about 14 weeks
  • If she has a low-lying placenta, the doctor or midwife may recommend avoiding sex


As the pregnancy advances, you may have to be more imaginative about positions for lovemaking. Deep penetration may become uncomfortable, and positions with the man on top may not be very practical either. Choose positions where penetration is shallower, such as spoons (lying on your side with the woman in front of the man), or where the woman can control the degree of penetration, such as the woman lying on top.

This may be an ideal time to explore other methods of lovemaking without penetration. Massage and mutual masturbation can be equally satisfying for many couples. Many women find that the increased blood flow to the pelvis during pregnancy means they are more easily aroused and generally feel much sexier than normal.

Some women experience mini contractions after intercourse, as orgasm can set off ‘practice’ (Braxton Hicks) contractions, common in later pregnancy. Unless you are at term and ready to go into labour, sex is very unlikely to make labour begin.

Levels of desire

Sexuality and responses to pregnancy differ from person to person. Some couples find it difficult to reconcile the pregnant body with the idea of a sexually attractive woman. Sometimes the woman feels far too ill to feel sexy, or the man is too worried about harming the baby to attempt sex. If you feel like this, it’s important that you find a way to express your worries to your partner, so they know it’s the sex you have gone off, and not them.

On the other hand, many couples find that sex during pregnancy improves, for a range of reasons:

  • Neither of you has to worry about contraceptives
  • Women enjoy their freedom from periods and PMS
  • Some women find they are more easily aroused, due to the increased blood flow to the pelvic region
  • Men enjoy the changing shape of their partner – fuller breasts and rounder hips are the stuff of many male dreams

Alternatives to sex

Many couples find that pregnancy is a time to experiment and develop new ways of making love. Learning how to please each other without penetration can actually improve a couple’s sex life.

You could try relaxing together and gently massaging each other instead:

  • Begin with a bath by candlelight, then wrap your partner in warm towels and dry him or her taking care over each part of the body.

Rub your hands in warm lemon oil (avoid aromatherapy oils in early pregnancy unless you have consulted an aromatherapist) and gently stroke and massage your partner’s limbs, back, shoulders and stomach. You may both feel like sleeping after this, or you may move on to achieve orgasm through external stimulation.

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