Sexual health and pregnancy: frequently asked questions

Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Pregnant woman in gym
Can we have sex during pregnancy?
Some men and women avoid sex during pregnancy because they're afraid it will hurt their baby. While some medical conditions make such abstinence necessary, sex doesn't compromise a baby in a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a strange time for a woman because of the changes in her body. She may feel unwell. And everything may seem subtly different. The father may be feeling a little strange as well. He may find his partner's shape appealing. And he may want sex. But he may also wonder whether she's interested.

A higher libido may result from hormonal changes or reduced inhibitions because the fear of getting pregnant is no longer an issue.

Who should avoid sex?
Women who have experienced:

  • recent vaginal bleeding
  • preterm labour
  • ruptured membranes (broken water bag)
  • placenta praevia (a condition in which the placenta is covering the inside of the cervix)

But they should also remember that a baby in a healthy pregnancy is well-cushioned and in no way compromised when their parents engage in sexual intercourse.

What about after baby is born?
Many doctors recommend couples wait until the woman feels comfortable before resuming their sex life. Right after delivery, women have a major drop in oestrogen levels, especially if they're breastfeeding. And that can reduce vaginal lubrication and make sex extremely uncomfortable. It is important to also discuss contraception with your health provider.

In this period, a woman's cervix remains slightly dilated and she continues to pass lochia, a vaginal discharge. So there may also be an increased risk of uterine infection with sex, and any episiotomy may still be tender.

Information kindly provided by Family Planning Victoria.

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