Myths about Sex and Pregnancy
In the majority of pregnancies, it is safe to continue a normal sex life as you wish to, when you wish to.
There are quite a lot of myths around pregnancy and sex, and hopefully, this article will clear those up. There are physiological changes during pregnancy and postnatally that will have some impact on your sex life, albeit temporarily.
Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?
With few exceptions, the answer is yes. Sex drive may alter during pregnancy, for example, morning sickness and lethargy in the first trimester will reduce libido. Tiredness and reduced mobility, and back or pelvic discomfort towards the end of pregnancy may also lead to a loss of interest temporarily. Sometimes the normal change in body shape may alter your feelings about yourself and sex. On the other hand, many women experience strong libido throughout. All of these variations are normal.
Will having sex during pregnancy cause miscarriage?
This is a common myth and simply untrue. Sex does not cause miscarriage. Studies showing abstinence from sex, exercise and even full-time bed rest show absolutely no reduction in the chance of miscarriage. However, all of these can lead to lowered mood and frustration. Miscarriage almost always occurs because of something inherently wrong with the developing fetus, not due to anything the pregnant woman has done.
Are there pregnancy conditions where sex is not safe to continue?
There are a couple of important conditions where abstinence becomes important.
A. If you have been diagnosed as having a weak or shortened cervix, or need a stitch around the cervix (often called cervical incompetence) then you will be advised to avoid intercourse.
B. If you have had a significant bleed from the placenta during your pregnancy and particularly if the placenta is lying over the cervix (placenta praevia) you will likewise be advised not to have intercourse.
C. If you are unlucky and your membranes rupture prematurely then you won’t be able to have sex for the remainder of the pregnancy.
What about having sex after my baby is born?
Most studies surveying women’s experience and desire for sex show it is normal to be greatly reduced for the first 3-6 months after birth. Partly, this reflects physical recovery and healing from birth. Breastfeeding normally makes your ovaries quiet for at least a few months. This means no oestrogen and reduced female testosterone levels as a normal hormonal reason for the loss of libido. The disturbance of normal sleep routines and tiredness that is part of looking after a newborn naturally reduces interest. The good news is that all of the above resolves in time. When you feel like resuming sex, communicate your feelings, take your time, and don’t worry too much if it’s uncomfortable and you need to stop. Vaginal dryness is normal while breastfeeding. Most couples find using a lubricant helps this situation. If this doesn’t work, then a prescription for vaginal oestrogen either as a cream or a small tablet inserted in the vagina is effective at restoring the normal environment and safe for breastfeeding women to use.
What if despite being patient and trying these things out, sex is not going well?
If you are having persistent problems resuming sex make an appointment for an examination sooner rather than later. Usually, after a good history is taken and an examination is performed I can work out what the problem is and advise appropriate measures.
Call the rooms to make an appointment to discuss your personal health issues or your pregnancy.
This article has been written by Dr Peter England – Expert Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Read more about Dr Peter England
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