For most women, sex is safe during the course of a normal pregnancy, which Kids Health defines as one that carries a low risk for complications. But even during a normal pregnancy, sex can be painful for the mom-to-be. Not all the causes of pain during sex mean something serious is wrong with you or your baby. However, you should inform your health care provider of any painful symptoms and discuss your concerns with her.
There are many causes of pain during sex. As your body changes, your desire to have sex can decrease. Fatigue, morning sickness, an expanding belly and general fears about harming the baby don’t lend themselves to an enjoyable experience. In turn, the lack of arousal and vaginal dryness makes penetration uncomfortable. Pain in the vaginal area that’s associated with itching or burning could indicate an infection, such as vaginitis or a yeast infection. More seriously, pain during intercourse early on in the pregnancy could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, when the fertilized egg implants and begins to develop outside the uterus.
Pain during sex when you are pregnant is scary and frustrating for both your partner and you. Not knowing or fully understanding the causes of the pain can create physical and emotional distance between the two of you. Also, even the fear of a past painful sexual experience makes intercourse not enjoyable.
The March of Dimes outlines certain conditions in which your health care provider might advise against sex during pregnancy. If you have a history or threat of miscarriage or preterm labor, intercourse might not be safe. Placenta previa, when the placenta rests against the opening of the cervix, increases your chance of preterm labor. Similarly, a condition called incompetent cervix, which is when the cervix is prone to premature dilation, might preclude intercourse during pregnancy. If you experience bleeding, discharge or cramping after sex, call your health care provider.
Treatment and Prevention
After your health care provider determines the cause of pain, you may be able to resume intercourse. Antibiotics or vaginal creams can treat infections and relieve discomfort. Lubricating creams and jellies can ease vaginal dryness to make penetration more comfortable. Sometimes relieving pain is as simple as finding a different sexual position or discovering other ways for your partner and you to pleasure each other. Even talking about your fears with your partner can diminish the anxiety that contributes to a painful experience.
Your health care provider will advise against having intercourse with someone whose sexual history you do not know, especially during your pregnancy. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections not only compromise your health, they expose your baby to the risk of infection. Some sexual activities and positions can also pose a threat to you and your baby. If you engage in oral sex, do not allow your partner to blow air into your vagina. Doing so can create an air embolism, possibly fatal to you and your baby. Likewise, lying on your back during sex after the fourth month compresses major blood vessels.
Pregnancy & Sex: