When should you stop having sex in pregnancy?

December 14, 2007

Q    When should you stop having intercourse in pregnancy?

A    In the delivery room. 

Just kidding, but actually it's true.

Sex has been tested and re-tested over and over and has not been found to interfere with pregnancy. There have actually been tests done involving monitoring the fetal heart rate during orgasm, and all was well. Of course, I'm stunned at how any researcher could talk anyone into such a monitored experiment. (You can imagine.)  In my practice, I recommend stopping intercourse only when it becomes uncomfortable for either partner.

Certainly the swelling of the delicate vaginal mucosa can make the mechanical act of intercourse irritating and painful. Normal.

The hormones that accompany pregnancy can affect libido--up or down. Normal.

Potential Problems With Sex During Pregnancy

Vaginal dryness is probably a result of the swelling mentioned above. Also, if there's any discomfort, it's hard for a woman to muster up the lubrication that accompanies excitation (or the lack thereof).

Pregnancy makes a woman more prone to yeast infections, which once again cause swelling, but also inflammation, of the vaginal tissue. It's not uncommon to have spotting after intercourse with such an infection--harmless--but will certainly make your obstetrician think of all kinds of more serious conditions requiring needless work-up.

The bottom line: If it hurts, it's time to stop. If it doesn't, feel free.

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