Content Map Terms

Healthy Sex During Pregnancy





man and pregnant woman holding hands and walking


Pregnancy can change your sexual relationship, but you and your partner can still be intimate.  

In fact, this may be a great time to experiment. 

Try different things and find comfortable activities that please both of you. Normally, sex during pregnancy is safe and won't harm the baby, but if sex is painful, be sure to speak with your doctor or midwife.

Tips for Having Sex During Pregnancy

  • Uncomfortable? Find new positions and use pillows for support where needed. When the baby has engaged in the pelvis, you can try lying, crouching, or kneeling with your back to your partner so he enters from behind.
  • Too tired? Have sex in the morning, afternoon, or a time when you're more rested.
  • Breasts leaking? Wear a padded nursing bra.

Your healthcare provider may advise you to avoid vaginal intercourse if:

  • the placenta is over the cervix (placenta previa)
  • your ‘water’ has broken (or your membranes have ruptured)
  • the cervix is opening early
  • there is a history of preterm labour before or during this pregnancy

Even if you have been advised to avoid intercourse, there are many other ways to have an intimate and loving relationship with your partner. Oral sex can be an alternative to vaginal sex; however there are two very important points to remember:

  • Don’t let your partner blow air into your vagina. It can cause an air bubble in your blood stream. This is a very serious complication.
  • Do not have oral sex if your partner has a cold sore (herpes virus) because you can be infected with the virus.

Tips for Partners

Check in frequently during sex to be sure your partner is enjoying the experience. Ask:

  • Is this position still comfortable?
  • What can I do to make this better?
  • Does this hurt?
  • Are you worried about the baby?
  • Should we try something else?

A mother's orgasm can trigger the uterus to contract. This can happen even with masturbation or oral sex. However, it usually does not affect the baby. Contractions normally stop after a few minutes. If you have a risk for preterm labour, you may be advised by your healthcare provider to avoid orgasms during your pregnancy.

If your baby is due, sex may help your body get ready for labour because:

  • Semen contains a hormone called prostaglandin that may help start contractions and soften the cervix.
  • Orgasm can cause the uterus to contract.
  • Stimulation of the nipples by rubbing, rolling, or sucking releases the hormone oxytocin. This can also cause the uterus to contract. You will notice these contractions as after pains when you first start breastfeeding after birth.

Will desire change in pregnancy?

Both women and men experience a change in their level of interest in sex during pregnancy. Some will find they have an increased desire. Others won't. Women may find their breasts and vulva are more sensitive and orgasms are more intense. Other women find they are too tired and nauseated, and have to struggle to adapt to their changing bodies. Some partners may not want to have sex, thinking it may harm the baby or induce labour.

Resources and Links:
HealthLink BC: Sex During Pregnancy

Last Updated: August 3, 2013