One topic that will always be controversial is the topic of sex. Be it between humans or animals, sex will always be an interesting topic of conversation, controversial and met with different opinions. But then again what’s even more interesting is sex in pregnancy. I had the pleasure of giving a lecture on the topic during an antenatal class; and it was met with so much approval and an equal amount of disdain.
Some asked me why I thought it was ‘cool’ to talk about sex so openly, others thought it was something practiced every day and needed to be talked about. Whatever the reaction this topic of conversation is met with, the fact remains that it is a topic that requires educating on.
So is it safe to continue intercourse when pregnancy has been confirmed? YES! It is totally safe for a woman to have sex all through her pregnant days; unless otherwise prescribed by her Midwife or doctor. First trimesters usually come with a lot of discomfort which include morning sickness.
At this stage the woman may not be overly inclined to indulge in sexual activities. However, after the first twelve (12) weeks of pregnancy, the urge returns and the woman’s libido is peaked. A woman’s sex drive increases during some stages of her pregnancy and may vary from woman to woman.
- Sex is a physical activity, and is considered a form of exercise which is in fact needed during pregnancy. Just like other appropriate exercises, it eases labour and recovery. Orgasms help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles by increasing the contraction in them, making labour and delivery easier.
- Sex in pregnancy helps to reduce the risk of obstetric complications. E.g. cephalo-pelvic disproportion.
- Having sex towards the end of the third trimester helps to ease cervical dilatation as the cervix is usually slightly open during intercourse.
- Sex in pregnancy improves the woman’s connection to her spouse.
Other benefits may include;
- Less bathroom breaks
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improves self-esteem
- Reduces stress
- Better orgasms
DISADVANTAGES SEX IN PREGNANCY?
Sex in pregnancy may not be safe for women who have bad obstetric history. A bad obstetric history includes a history of repeated miscarriages, preterm labor, bleeding, or an incompetent cervix (a condition where the cervix effaces and dilates in the absence of contractions in the early trimester or as the baby’s growing weight exerts pressure on the cervix.
Women with complaints of severe abdominal pain that are not contractions should minimize or stop sexual intercourse until they’re relieved of the fetal weight.
DOES SEX DURING PREGNANCY STIMULATE LABOUR?
In as much as there’s proof that over exertion can stimulate labour, there is no medical evidence of sex being an initiator, so it is more myth than fact. During third trimester pregnancy, sex cannot be vigorous enough to stimulate labour. Although once labour has been established, it is possible for the oxytocin hormone produced by the posterior part of the pituitary gland, can help to enhance contractions. Semen may also aid cervical ripening for labour to progress.
CAN SPERM HARM THE BABY OR HELP THE BABY?
The growing fetus has some protective factors responsible for shielding it from harm. The closest to the baby is the amniotic fluid that helps to minimize vibrations on the baby during exertion. Then there’s the amniotic sac, which is a protective membrane covering the baby and the fluid. Covering all these are the multilayered uterus which in turn is protected by the abdominal wall, pelvic wall and even the diaphragm.
So it is safe to say that penetration and intercourse movement won’t harm the baby. Hormones in semen like prostaglandins can stimulate contractions. As a result, some doctors advise abstaining from sex during the final weeks of pregnancy.
Although some experts also believe that sperm might be able to prevent preeclampsia and cure morning sickness.
WHAT HAPPENS TO SPERM IN A PREGNANT WOMAN? CAN A WOMAN GET PREGNANT WHILE ALREADY PREGNANT?
It is difficult, usually, for sperm to pass through the operculum (mucus plug) during intercourse. This plug blocks sperm passage and prevents it from entering the already gravid uterus, let alone reaching the fallopian tubes where fertilization can take place.
But there are extremely rare cases where the sperm go through and fertilization occurs to an ovum released by chance; and another pregnancy occurs, resulting in the coexistence of two fetuses, usually of varying gestational ages, in the uterus. This phenomenon is known medically as superfetation.
DOES SEX HURT DURING EARLY PREGNANCY?
Not hurt per se. During early pregnancy, the woman’s reproductive parts are more sensitive due to the unusual hormone production and circulation. This may cause a slight discomfort during sex. But as pregnancy develops, sensitivity may give way to pain due to the expanding uterus. Even in non-gravidity, some women experience painful intercourse (dyspareunia). In this case, such women may continue to experience the pain without it being attributed to pregnancy hormones or organs hypersensitivity.
CAN HAVING SEX BREAK YOUR WATER?
A study done in 2014 found a connection between sexual intercourse in last week of pregnancy and rupture of membranes. This is a rare occurrence given that gentle sex in pregnancy is not likely to lead to membrane rupture.
Vigorous sex may cause water to break especially in the last weeks of pregnancy. However, women whose water already broke should not have sex in order to prevent infectious agents from reaching the baby.
NINE (9) SEX POSITIONS TO TRY DURING PREGNANCY
As pregnancy progresses, the choice of sex positions the couple could make begins to dwindle. The size of the growing uterus may hinder the use of several preferred positions but there are others which can help to maintain the much sought after sexual pleasure.
- Doggy position – this position is used to describe sex with the woman on all fours and her partner penetrating from behind. Here, she has to be on her hands and knees, especially if her abdomen has begun to protrude.
- Woman on top – the woman assumes a comfortable position atop her partner in a woman-missionary style or the cow girl option (reverse or non-reverse). This position affords the woman the ability to decide the pace of the intercourse and control the activity to suit her condition.
- Spooning – the woman’s back is turned toward her partner’s front in the fashion in which spoons are arranged in stacks. Here, the woman’s abdomen faces forward without any obstruction.
- Standing – this position may make the woman tire out easily, but is recommended for short bouts of sexual intercourse or used interchangeably with other suitable positions.
- Sitting – also a woman on top position, this however does not involve lying down. Neither partner lays down. The woman sits astride her partner who is also seated.
- Anal – this type of sex is not exactly a position. It is usually frowned upon, but still brings satisfaction to those who are open or indifferent to it. It does not involve vaginal penetration but anal penetration. So the unfounded fear of hurting the baby with the sperm is not present at all.
- Oral – this is a kind of sexual practice that has its own sexual positions. It involves the use of the mouth on the sexual organs, commonly known as blowjobs and ‘head’. To achieve this, the 69 position may be adopted. In this position, the limbs and torsos of both partners lie in opposite directions, leaving them free to explore each other’s external genitalia with their mouths.
Sex in pregnancy is usually safe except in special cases where it may cause complications to both mother and baby. Otherwise, withholding sex in pregnancy may be the beginning of the couple’s downward spiral toward a life where the new baby is seen as a barrier to having sex after its birth. Sex aids bonding between couples. Sex in pregnancy helps the couple bond more with the baby.
But overall, it is best if the couple reach an agreement on the best option for adoption as it concerns gestational sex. The needs of a woman change from conception to delivery, including her sexual needs. She might be open to enjoy sex in pregnancy totally abhor even the idea of it. It is then left for the woman’s partner to endeavor to listen to her, discover her needs and what sexual activity would irritate or excite her.
It is also possible that her sex drive doubles in intensity. Sometimes, It can be frightening for the man to discover this, especially since it falls to him to provide her with the satisfaction she craves; but as always communication is key in handling any situation involving couples. As sensitive as she might be in her pregnant state, she can be open to options on how to resolve this ‘so called’ problem that pregnancy poses.
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