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Having sex during Pregnancy

Reasons you might need to abstain from sex during pregnancy

When should I avoid sex?

Assuming your pregnancy is normal and low-risk, you shouldn't have to say no to a roll in the hay. In fact, many couples continue their sex life right up to their baby's delivery. Neither intercourse nor orgasm poses a threat to a healthy pregnant woman or her baby. The thick mucus plug that seals the cervix during pregnancy helps guard against infection. And the baby is well protected by the fluid-filled amniotic sac and strong uterine muscles.

However, if you're having a high-risk pregnancy or your practitioner anticipates any complications, you may have to forgo sex. (And of course, if you notice any unusual symptoms during or following intercourse, such as pain or discharge, call your doctor or midwife before having sex again.)

Because orgasm can cause mild uterine contractions (as can the prostaglandins in semen), most doctors and midwives will advise against intercourse if you have any of the following conditions:

  • An increased risk for miscarriage
  • Placenta previa or a very low-lying placenta
  • A history of preterm birth
  • Premature labor if you're less than 36 weeks pregnant
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Abdominal cramping
  • An "incompetent cervix"
  • A dilated cervix
  • Ruptured membranes (your water has broken)

An unhealed herpes lesion in either you or your partner, or the presence of any other sexually transmitted disease. In this case, abstain from sex until you and your mate have been treated and a follow-up test shows you're both free of disease. If your partner is HIV positive, and you have sex while you're pregnant — especially without a condom — you could be putting yourself and your baby at risk for contracting the disease.

If you have to forego sex, don't despair: You can still kiss, engage in creative foreplay, give each other long massages, and share your feelings for each other.

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