From feeling hot to totally not … here’s your guide to sex and pregnancy after a loss.
Sex in pregnancy after loss: What you can expect.
Ok, to be fair, we can’t tell you exactly what to expect from sex. Just like we can’t tell you exactly how you feel in grief or exactly what pregnancy after a loss will be like for you.
But we can give you a basic roadmap of what you could experience and what others before you have gone through. We’ll go over when sex is generally safe and when it’s not. What you might feel when sex is triggering. Why you might want it all the time – or why you are so NOT into it, you wonder how you got pregnant in the first place.
OK, let’s get started with the basics.
Sex in pregnancy is generally safe …
You or your partner might worry that sex is somehow going to hurt you or the baby. We have good news: For most people, for most pregnancies, sex is completely safe.
Healthline says, “Unless your doctor or midwife has strict, specific reasons for you to not have intercourse, it’s absolutely safe — for you, your partner, and your developing baby“Will It Hurt the Baby? Plus 9 More Questions About Safe Pregnancy Sex,” Lora Shinn, Healthline Parenthood, November 27, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnant-sex.” Your baby is protected by your abdomen and your uterus. And he or she is surrounded by amniotic fluid. Your baby is in a literal bubble so they will not be bothered by sex in the slightest.
Here are some reasons why doctors may recommend abstinence or pelvic rest.
Since you are a loss mom and have been on the wrong side of statistics, it’s hard to find comfort in the phrases “most” or “generally.” We totally understand.
The most important thing for you to know is that if your doctor considers sex in pregnancy safe for you, that trumps any list you will find here or on the internet.
If you are worried at all, have a candid conversation about your doctor about your concerns.
Your doctor may consider pelvic rest (meaning no penetration) if you have the following“Sex During and After Pregnancy,” WebMD, Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, February 15, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/sex-and-pregnancy#2:
- They consider your pregnancy high-risk for miscarriage or pre-term labor.
- You have unexplained signs of miscarriage, such as bleeding or cramping.
- You have placenta previa (meaning your placenta is covering your cervix).
- Your water is broken which could put you at risk for infection.
- Your cervix is open.
- Your pregnancy is high-risk due to multiples.
- Your partner has a sexually transmitted infection.
If you are instructed to abstain from sex, ask your doctor if that means penetration only or if it also means no sexual stimulation.
If your pregnancy is without complications, orgasm will not cause you to have a miscarriage or go into preterm labor“Sex in Pregnancy,” Tommy’s, December 12, 2019, https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/sex-pregnancy.
Research proves that not only is sex safe in most pregnancies, but it’s also beneficial.
Here are some of the proven benefits of sex in pregnancy:
- Sex one to two times a week can improve your immune system“Sexual Frequency and Salivary Immunoglobulin A (IgA),” Charnetski, C. J., & Brennan, F. X. (2004). Psychological Reports, 94(3), 839–844. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.94.3.839-844, … Continue reading.
- Pregnancy increases your blood flow, which means sex might feel better and you could have stronger orgasms.
- Sex burns calories. (Which could be a fun way to exercise).
- Orgasms release happy chemicals called endorphins“What to Know About Sex During Pregnancy,” Bethany Cadman, Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST, Medical News Today, February 22, 2019, … Continue reading. (And even baby benefits from them.)
- Intimacy increases the bond between you and your partner.
- It can help lower pain and give you better sleep. (Well, as good as pregnant sleep can get.)
- And … sex is a good release for stress. And stress relief is good for you and baby.
Will sex in pregnancy hurt?
Pain in sex is called dyspareunia and can be common with sex, whether pregnant or not. Studies show anywhere from 20-60% of women experience pain with sex at least once“What causes dyspareunia, or painful intercourse?” Jayne Leonard, Medically reviewed by University of Illinois, Medical News Today, December 22, 2017, … Continue reading. If you have any pain during sex, always talk to your providers. While it may be common, sex should not be painful.
Pregnancy itself shouldn’t make sex hurt more – but your growing belly can make you more uncomfortableSex after birth, however, is a time when women frequently complain that sex is uncomfortable or painful. Studies show up to 45% of women experience discomfort with postpartum sex.. You may need to try new positions to find out what best accommodates your bump while giving you and your partner the most pleasure. If you find you are dryer than normal, increase your use of lube.
(And since we’re talking about painful sex, we feel it’s important to reiterate you have the right to stop sex at any point for any reason. Sex is only safe if it is fully consensual. Even if you have consented to sex with your partner, you have the right to change your mind at any time.)
Best sex positions.
According to Healthline, here are 9 safe sex positions to try in pregnancy“Will It Hurt the Baby? Plus 9 More Questions About Safe Pregnancy Sex,” Lora Shinn, Healthline Parenthood, November 27, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnant-sex. Try a few (or try them all) to find out what feels the best.
- Sex from behind (doggy style).
- You on top (cowgirl).
- Reverse cowgirl.
- Seated pregnancy sex.
- Oral sex. (Do not allow your partner to blow into your vagina, which could cause a rare but dangerous air embolism.)
- Anal sex. (Do not have vaginal sex directly after having anal sex as it can increase your risk of infection unless your partner cleans themselves or puts on a fresh condom.)
- Side-by-side sex.
There are some sex positions you should avoid, including missionary style (as this puts pressure on your belly and requires you to lay flat on your back, which is not recommended). Or prone positions, which means you are laying on your tummy. Also, take precautions around starting BSDM in pregnancy.
Why you might be completely uninterested in sex.
If you just want to yawn when your partner suggests something intimate, there are several reasons why your sex drive might be lower than you might expect.
For starters, it could be that you are in the first trimester when morning sickness is often at its peak.
Nausea is not good for libido, so you may want to sit it out for a while. Women often report a surge of energy and a decrease in morning sickness in the second trimester, which may be your golden opportunity to get busy. In the third trimester, you may find that your body is more uncomfortable which could also put you not in the mood. No matter the trimester, sex is an activity driven by hormones, and your hormones are on a roller coaster.
Second, if you are feeling anxious, excessively stressed, or depressed, those feelings can decrease your sex drive.
And let’s face it, almost all of those emotional and mental states are common in pregnancy after loss.
Third, sex may be triggering.
If you dealt with infertility before this pregnancy, you may associate sex with making babies. And even with a baby in the oven – if this pregnancy does not feel secure to you, you may still struggle with the reminder of your history or the uncertainty of this current pregnancy. Sex can remind you of the time you got pregnant with your baby who passed. You might associate sex with trauma in pregnancy, in birth, or with past abuse. Also, having sex is an incredibly vulnerable experience, and you may want to avoid feeling any more vulnerable than you already are feeling in this pregnancy.
Last, you might not “feel sexy.”
You could be focused on motherhood and struggle to relate mothering with being sexy. Or if your body has changed and you’re just not used to your current size or shape, you may not feel as confident showing off your body.
Why you might feel hot and bothered way more than normal.
An increase in estrogen can increase your libido.
There’s at least one potential perk for having intense hormone shifts. You might have more and better sex. Increased hormones can also make you wetter, which can make sex more pleasurable. Also, estrogen is also to blame for an increase in orgasmic dreams or wet dreams.
Your body has 50% more blood during pregnancy – which affects your sex organs.
According to Healthline, “that blood also goes to the vulva, vagina, clitoris, and pelvis, engorging the tissues. Depending on the person, it can feel either pleasurable, irritating, or somewhere in between.”
Some women report having more orgasms, or stronger orgasms, during pregnancy.
Which for all the pains of pregnancy, we’ll for sure take this perk.
Sex can be fun and exhilarating, boring and ho-hum, or downright hard in pregnancy after loss.
Whether sex is easier or harder, know that you are not alone in experiencing a change in your sexual relationship during pregnancy, especially in pregnancy after loss. Remember to talk to your provider about any questions you have about if sex is safe for you … and especially keep them in the loop if sex causes pain or bleeding. And be sure to keep up open communication with your partner so they can understand and be receptive to your needs at this time.
- Wandering Through Sex After Loss
- Maintaining Intimacy While on Pelvic Rest
- 15 Things I Need My Partner to Know During Our Pregnancy after Loss
|↑1||“Will It Hurt the Baby? Plus 9 More Questions About Safe Pregnancy Sex,” Lora Shinn, Healthline Parenthood, November 27, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnant-sex|
|↑2||“Sex During and After Pregnancy,” WebMD, Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, February 15, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/sex-and-pregnancy#2|
|↑3||“Sex in Pregnancy,” Tommy’s, December 12, 2019, https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/sex-pregnancy|
|↑4||“Sexual Frequency and Salivary Immunoglobulin A (IgA),” Charnetski, C. J., & Brennan, F. X. (2004). Psychological Reports, 94(3), 839–844. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.94.3.839-844, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2466/pr0.94.3.839-844#articleCitationDownloadContainer|
|↑5||“What to Know About Sex During Pregnancy,” Bethany Cadman, Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST, Medical News Today, February 22, 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321648#benefits|
|↑6||“What causes dyspareunia, or painful intercourse?” Jayne Leonard, Medically reviewed by University of Illinois, Medical News Today, December 22, 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/192590|
|↑7||Sex after birth, however, is a time when women frequently complain that sex is uncomfortable or painful. Studies show up to 45% of women experience discomfort with postpartum sex.|
|↑8||“Will It Hurt the Baby? Plus 9 More Questions About Safe Pregnancy Sex,” Lora Shinn, Healthline Parenthood, November 27, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnant-sex|