Dear Dr G,

I am in my mid-thirties and I am five months pregnant.

I understand this is my first pregnancy and I have nothing to compare to, however I am just puzzled by many reports that have highlighted that expectant women enjoy sexual experiences more compared to when they are not pregnant.

Although I find sex rather uncomfortable, the experience is quite different as I find myself more responsive and sensitive to sex.

Secondly, I am also worried about the impact of sex on my baby in the womb.

My husband insisted penetrative sex is safe and will never harm the baby. On the other hand, I read some reports stating that sex during can potentially induce miscarriages.

Therefore, I have decided to put Dr. G on the spot to clear the air on the issues of sex during pregnancy.

Can you tell me what are the changes in a pregnant woman’s body and the impact on her sexual responses? Also, is sex really safe during pregnancy and does it provoke the risk of a miscarriage? Also, are some sexual positions safer than others?

Surely, the aggression of sex can potentially be the act that rocks the cradle.

I hope to get some clarification on this.

Pregnant Paula

It is a cultural tendency to not associate expectant mothers with sexuality. Many women lose the desire for sex during pregnancy, not just because of the expanding size, but also because of a pre-occupation with the impending delivery.

It is not surprising that sex is the last thing on a woman’s mind, with the fluctuating hormones resulting in fatigue, nausea, weight-gain and back pain as the pregnancy progresses. However, the libido in pregnant mothers can go up and down due to the hormonal changes.

Many sexual health experts believe the second trimester is the golden time to engage in sex. Despite the hormonal changes relaxing the muscles in the genitalia making the vagina feel less tight, the heightening of hormones can make the sexual organ feel more sensitive.

The preparation of milk production in women also tends to increase the shape and sensitivity of the nipples, making sex during pregnancy sensual and pleasurable. Lastly, the increase in circulation enhances secretion and lubrication to the vagina, resulting in pregnant women feeling an enhanced pelvic orgasm, as the blood flow and hormones are heightened.

Despite scientific data demonstrating minimal risk in sex during pregnancy, one study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy revealed that 80% of men with expectant partners reported avoiding sex due as they feared hurting the fetus.

In this study, amongst the 105 men whose partners were in the third trimester of pregnancy, the vast majority reported decrease in sexual frequency due to a fear of sex causing harm during the pregnancy.

In truth, the womb is really quite high up in the pelvis, and well out of the way from the area of action during penetrative sex. The penile penetration really has little or no chance of reaching the womb, despite how proud many men may be with the size of their manhood. Moreover, the baby is well-insulated by the

amniotic fluid and the strong muscular wall of the womb, protected from harm even when considering the vigour of penetrative sex.

The other worry is that the pelvic contractions during an orgasm can induce unfavourable responses such as a miscarriage. In fact, the contractions during female orgasm are different from labour contractions and therefore frequent sexual intercourse or orgasm has no impact on the stability of the fetus.

A 2011 study that follows more than ten thousand low-risk singleton pregnancies found that there was no premature labour or miscarriage despite regular penetrative sex during pregnancy.

Additionally, most men worry that certain sexual positions may be more harmful than others.

In fact, as long as the female partner is comfortable, there is no specific sexual position that is preferable or safe.

Generally, the sexual positions considered comfortable and safe are the ones keeping pressure off the belly; these include men from behind, women on top and spooning.

I also assume that some men would have the common sense to avoid crushing the baby if you are a 100kg beast!

The scientific evidence has generally supported the safety of engaging in sexual activities during normal pregnancy.

However, for pregnancy that is deemed high-risk such as the threat of miscarriage, unexplained vaginal bleeding, twins, or with a history of pre-term deliveries, doctors may advise couples go easy on intercourse.

In fact, Dr. G is more likely to be put on the spot by men for fear of “sex that rocks the cradle” during pregnancy instead of women.

Obviously, the experience of pregnancy is different for all couples, clouded with uncertainty, especially the first one.

The classical Athenian philosopher Plato once said that “any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to another.”

When it comes to sex during pregnancy,”any men may not so easily do harm, but most couples can actually do good to each other with love-making, even during pregnancy!”

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