Can I Have Sex During Pregnancy?

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The short answer: Yes. Sex in pregnancy is considered safe for most pregnant people.

Let’s start from the top.

There are some conditions in pregnancy where sex is not recommended. We’ll get to those.

Other times, you may have a healthy, normal pregnancy, but some vaginal bleeding happens every time you have sex. We’ll talk about this too.

And then there is the most common concern: I’m just not in the mood because (enter your reason: nausea, fatigue, hemorrhoids, more nausea…). This is also normal. We’ll run through this one too.

Is sex okay during pregnancy?

Yes. For most people, sex during pregnancy is safe and does not harm you or the baby.

Who should not have sex during pregnancy?

Anyone with bright red vaginal bleeding, especially any bleeding heavier than a period, should avoid sex while pregnant and should consult with their provider.

Common conditions where sex is not recommended:

  • Placenta issues (placenta previa and some low lying placentas)
  • Bleeding in the first trimester (especially common with subchorionic hemorrhages)
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding at any point during pregnancy
  • Short cervix (also called an incompetent cervix)
  • Ruptured membranes

Other conditions may include a history of preterm labor or being at risk for preterm labor (example: twin or triplet pregnancies).

This is not a complete list – sometimes your provider will recommend no sex depending on other conditions specific to your medical or clinical history.

What if my pregnancy is normal but I have some light pink discharge or light bleeding every time I have sex?

This can be normal. And it’s okay for you and the baby.

Usually the cervix is bleeding. This is really common in people with an ectropian cervix.

Say what?



It means the cells on the inside of your cervix have moved to the outer part of your cervix.

It gives your cervix a jelly doughnut type appearance. But those same “jelly like” cell areas bleed really easily with sex. Every time.

This isn’t anything you have control over. Your cervix either does this or it doesn’t.

But if a provider is doing a speculum exam to look at your cervix, you can simply ask them.

Whenever I see a cervix that looks like this, I always try to give anticipatory guidance in the pregnancy (i.e. you might have some spotting when you have sex during this pregnancy).

Another helpful tip: If you have some bleeding that happens and you are concerned, take a picture of your sheets, pad, underwear, toilet…and bring that picture to clinic or to triage to show your provider. A picture can describe your bleeding very quickly to your provider and be a helpful talking tool for the amount of bleeding that is expected or not normal.

Is my sex drive going to come back after birth?


In all honesty, sex can look a little different in parenthood. Sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, the number of kids, returning to work and general fatigue all play factors in how often or what kind of sex you may be having.

Grace for yourself, your partner and your body is the most important thing during this time. On average, it takes about a year to fully recover from birth. Be patient, be sure you’re rested, and go slow as you ease back into sex.

I think my interest in sex has evaporated since becoming pregnant. Is this normal?

Yes. Sex drive can change very easily and is often dependent on your trimester of pregnancy. In the first trimester, you have a lot of nausea, fatigue, and nervousness that prevent interest in sex. The second trimeter arrives with some relief from nausea and a return of energy. Most people will report this is a trimester where they are much more interested in sex, or even more “horny.” The third trimester depends a lot of the comfort level of the woman. If there is back pain, sciatica pain or general discomfort from the growing uterus, sex may be desired, but traditional positions might need to be altered. Example: Side lying or on top positions are generally more comfortable than positions laying on your back in the thrid trimester.

Should I still use condoms while I’m pregnant?


You can get any sexually transmitted disease while you are pregnant.

Is it normal to have some pink discharge or small amount of bleeding from the vagina after sex?

Yes. Pink or bright red bleeding that is a very small amount (think less than a light period) right after sex is usually normal. Bleeding should stop within an hour. If you’re unsure about the bleeding, put on a pad and monitor closely for 1-2 hours.Always call your provider for guidance or assurances.

I’m having a little bleeding every time I have sex. Is it okay to keep having sex?

Generally, yes. It depends on what the bleeding is from. If the bleeding is from an ectropian cervix and not another reason that is concerning to the pregnancy, then it’s okay to have sex and have some small discharge or bleeding.

However, some people are very unnerved by this pattern (sex…followed by pink discharge or bleeding) and they will choose not to have sex during their pregnancy. The choice is very much a personal one.

Are certain sex positions better than others?

Nope. This is totally dependent on the trimester and the couple. Positions tend to be the most uncomfortable in the third trimester.

Can I have sex every day in pregnancy?

Yes. There is not evidence that reports any harm from having sex daily in pregnancy.

Does sex help to start labor?

Depends who you ask. Seasoned midwives tend to say yes. Semen has prostaglandins that are thought to help soften the cervix or cause contractions – but is it the semen that starts the contractions or a ripened cervix that is exposed to semen that starts labor…we don’t know.

Evidence Based Birth did a nice review of the evidence that notes it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Will I have contractions after having sex?

Maybe. These are contractions are normal and are from either prostaglandins or oxytocin. Generally the contractions stop within an hour.

My vagina feels swollen after sex. Is this normal?

Yes. The vagina and uterus have a lot more blood flow when you are pregnant than when you are not. This can cause more intense orgasms as well as some engorgement of the vaginal tissues.

Does sex hurt the baby at all?

Nope. There is a cervix at the back of the vagina that averages about 4 centimeters in length. Behind your cervix are the two membranes that make up the bag of water (amnion and chorion) and then the amniotic fluid. And then… there’s the presenting part of the baby.

Whether it’s a penis, finger, or vibrator…they’re all safe for the baby.

What other resources talk about sex and pregnancy?

March of Dimes produced a great guide.

(Providers, print this one and put it in the clinic bathrooms. That’s where all the real learning occurs anyways.)


This information was great for my pregnancy. Where can I get more education and resources like this?

I got you! I created 9 guides to pregnancy that do exactly that – but they are made to go along with your pregnancy visits. The guides start with your first visit and go all the way to 39-40 weeks.

Education throughout your entire pregnancy is one of the best decisions you can make for you and your baby. I would like to tell you that your healthcare team will offer you all the education you need in pregnancy, birth and beyond. But the truth is, the healthcare system isn’t set up that way and there’s just not enough time. You have to make the investment (these guides are worth 10x their price!) and prepare yourself for pregnancy, birth and beyond.

There you go! Hope this was a helpful recap for you. Stay tuned…next up: Can I Get My Hair Done In Pregnancy?

1 year ago on the blog…International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

2 years ago on the blog…JOGNN Article Review: “Effects of Fourth- Degree Perineal Lacerations on Women’s Physical and Mental Health”

3 years ago on the blog…Alison’s Birth Story

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