Pregnancy for all couples brings with it a number of questions and apprehensions about the sexual activity that should ideally be conducted during the nine months. The bottom line is always the well being of the unborn child and the pregnant woman. So how safe is it to continue having intercourse during pregnancy? The definite answer to this is that it is “perfectly safe" to maintain a normal and healthy sexual life during the entire pregnancy term.
Pregnancy and Sex
Fetus safely enclosed in the womb
The first and foremost fact is that the fetus is safely enclosed in the uterus that is a muscular organ and under no circumstances can the penis reach the baby causing it any kind of harm or distress. The amniotic sac in which the fetus is enclosed has strong muscles that cannot be damaged by mere sexual activity.
Mucus plug on the cervix
The body of the pregnant woman has a natural defense mechanism during the first trimester by forming a mucus plug near the cervix to ward off any bacterial or microbial infection, thereby letting the pregnant lady carry on with her normal sexual activity without any danger to the fetus. This plug is thick and impenetrable so no matter what the position the couple may use during intercourse, the penis would not be able to reach the fetus.
Circumstances when it is advisable to cease sexual activity
All cases of pregnancy are not similar in nature and there are a few cases when the doctor may advise to abstain from intercourse for the well being of the fetus. This is generally observed when the woman has complains of spotting or bleeding, especially during the first three months. Also, if the woman feels uncomfortable during intercourse then the partner can try altering positions to suit her. However, if the discomfort continues it is best to take the advice of a doctor. The discomfort need not necessarily always be due to any potential harm to the fetus but more due to the rapid physical change going on in the woman’s body and this generally tends to settle down by the 2nd trimester.
Also, if the male partner has a genital infection like Chlamydia or Herpes then it is best to abstain from sexual intercourse as the infection may reach the fetus. If the doctor suggests a medical condition known as “placenta praevia" wherein the placenta lies on top of the cervix, then too it is best to avoid sexual intercourse.
If the woman has a history of premature birth or miscarriages then the doctor may advise the couple to abstain from sexual intercourse. There are some cases wherein the amniotic fluid may leak before time; in such cases too sexual intercourse is not advisable. In case the woman is carrying twins or triplets the doctor may advise a change in the sexual activity for the couple.
Sexual intercourse during the last trimester
During the last trimester the size of the belly may prove to be a deterrent in some cases but again there is no potential harm to the fetus. Again a change in posture is the best option to maintain the sexual activity without compromising on the pregnant lady’s comfort. The pressure felt on the womb does not cause any distress to the fetus. It is a myth that an orgasm may cause premature delivery. Even though the fetus can be felt moving about when the couple is having an intercourse, it is not due to any discomfort but due to the increased heartbeat of the mother. The scientific fact is that the contractions one may feel during orgasm are not in any way the real contractions. However, as the semen contains a chemical called “prostaglandins" that may cause labor, there may be instances when the doctor advises to cease sexual intercourse. Nipple stimulation is also not advised during the last trimester as it may induce labor.
Some points to keep in mind
Irrespective of the various techniques practiced by the couple prior to pregnancy, it is advisable to play safe during pregnancy. The usage of sex toys, especially those that are inserted into the sex organs are a strict no as they can cause severe infection. Douching is also not advised during pregnancy. The limit of penetration should be decided by the woman depending on her comfort level. It is very vital for the male partner to be understanding and empathetic with the woman and let her call the shots.