Being in a state of pregnancy does not diminish the desire for intimacy between couples. However, many couples have concerns that sexual intercourse may harm the pregnancy in some way.

Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Head and Senior Consultant, Inpatient Service, Department of General Obstetrics & Gynaecology, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group, answers this concern and other frequently asked questions about sex during pregnancy.

1. Is sex safe in pregnancy?

Yes, if you are having an uneventful pregnancy. Sex is safe and has no harmful effects on the pregnancy or the foetus. Although there are concerns that the womb may experience contractions after an orgasm, these are harmless in most instances and will not precipitate labour in a pregnant woman.

2. Will it hurt my baby?

No, sex in an uncomplicated pregnancy is safe and will not hurt your baby. The baby is surrounded by an “amniotic sac” as well as a thick uterine wall which cushions it from any motion. The mucus plug in the cervix prevents any infection from entering the uterus.

3. Will my sex drive be affected in pregnancy?

This varies from woman to woman. As a general rule, sex drive increases in most women in the second trimester as they are able to adapt better both physically and emotionally to their pregnancy by this time. Some women feel more attractive during pregnancy, and want to be more intimate with their partners. Conversely, other couples feel great concern about the possibility of endangering the pregnancy. This results in a decreased libido.

Normal pregnancy conditions like nausea, vomiting and tiredness in the first trimester may result in the mother feeling less desire for sex. Many women experience increased libido when the first trimester is over. Late in pregnancy, the increasing abdominal girth may make some women physically uncomfortable. They may be more concerned about impending labour, or just too tired for sex.

4. Why is my partner not keen on sex?

This could be due to the partner being worried about “hurting” the baby, or harming the pregnancy. If the pregnancy is smooth and uncomplicated, there is no scientific evidence which indicates that sex is unsafe. He may not be used to the physical changes which you are going through. This concern may be more pronounced nearer the end of the pregnancy because of the fear of hitting the engaged foetal head. It may be wise to avoid any intercourse during this time if it gets too uncomfortable for both of you.

Alternatively, there are many men who feel an increase in their desire for their partner’s changing bodies during pregnancy, and they may feel an increased need to express their emotions in a physical manner.

5. Will sex feel any different to me?

Many pregnant women will feel that sexual intercourse is slightly better due to the increased blood flow in the pelvis, which heightens sensation and increases sensitivity. However, some will perceive this as an uncomfortable fullness in the lower abdomen. Some women may even experience uterine cramps after intercourse, especially in the third trimester, and this alarms them. Transient cramps after an orgasm are normal, but please see your doctor should the cramps get worse in intensity or become more frequent.

The increased breast engorgement in early pregnancy may result in some tenderness should they be fondled. It may be advisable to omit this from the foreplay with your partner if this tenderness affects you.

Due to higher oestrogen levels, some women experience more vaginal lubrication, which can be pleasurable for some, but increase irritation for others.

"The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth", a pregnancy book written by A/Prof Tan Thiam Chye, Dr. Tan Kim Teng, Dr. Tan Heng Hao​, A/Prof John Tee Chee Seng. KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group.

* Available at all major book stores and Pharmacy in KKH.

More commonly asked questions on sex during pregnancy, on the next page.

Ref: S13