How late in pregnancy is it safe to have sex? When do you need to stop,and what are warning signs you should look out for? Thanks! -Chris in California
The expert answers
Your question is one that most likely crosses every couple's mind at some point during pregnancy, but it is one that is seldom asked of medical professionals. I'm glad to have the opportunity to address your concern as a physician, wife and a mother.
Let me say up front that if no problems present themselves during this pregnancy or in past pregnancies, there is no reason not to enjoy sexual intercourse throughout the entire pregnancy. After all, for the woman (and some men) how great it is to not worry about birth control methods, fear of pregnancy (too late), and vaginal hormonal lubrication of pregnancy generally cures any past history of vaginal dryness.
Physically and emotionally, it is good for you to have intercourse during pregnancy because it can help to keep you and your partner close, it prepares your pelvic floor muscles for delivery, it can help with any body image issues by feeling sexy, and, lastly, it's nice to have this closeness with your partner now, as once the baby arrives, it's a lot more difficult to find the time and energy to devote to each other.
Sometimes during pregnancy, some things may occur which would prohibit sexual intercourse. The main issue is unexplained bleeding, which would necessitate a call and an appointment with your physician to determine its cause. If there are signs of a threatened miscarriage or a history of miscarriages, first trimester intercourse may be restricted. If a woman goes into early labor or has signs of premature labor in the last trimester, intercourse should be avoided so the uterus is not further stimulated. If the woman has a known placenta previa (where the placenta is located at the bottom of the uterus near the cervical opening) intercourse could upset the stability of the placenta and cause serious bleeding or rupturing possibly harming the mother and baby.
Lastly, it would be dangerous to attempt intercourse if the bag of water(amniotic fluid) has ruptured as both mother and baby could become extremely infected. Certainly, if any of these red flags pertain to you, be certain to contact your physician to get clear directions as to what does and does not apply to you.
In pregnancy, always play it safe. If intercourse presents a risk, remember there are a multitude of other ways to express your love and passion for your partner. It may take some creativity but it certainly can bring a new and fun angle into your relationship.