Sex in pregnancy: A primer

January 31, 2011

Sex in pregnancy is generally safe, with few complications, states a new primer for physicians to counsel patients wondering about sex in pregnancy, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). The primer is based on current evidence.

Potential, although uncommon, risks of sex in include premature labour, pelvic inflammatory disease, in placenta previa (when the placenta covers part of the ) and .

While restriction of intercourse is recommended for women at risk of premature labour, the evidence is contradictory and limited. In low-risk women, frequent intercourse was associated with an increased risk of premature labour only in women with lower infections. In higher risk women — carrying more than one baby, with cervical incompetence or a history of early labour — there is limited evidence to guide recommendations.

"In populations at increased risk for preterm labour, there is no evidence to suggest a clear benefit from restricted sexual activity; however, this is a simple intervention that causes no harm and may be a reasonable recommendation until better evidence emerges," writes Dr. Clair Jones, Department of Obstetrics, Mount Sinai Hospital and University of Toronto with coauthors.

In rare cases, some types of sexual activity that push air into the vagina may result in a uterine blood clot that is usually fatal.

"Sex in pregnancy is normal," write the authors. "There are very few proven contraindications and risks to intercourse in low-risk pregnancies, and therefore these patients should be reassured. In pregnancies complicated by placenta previa or an increased risk of preterm labour, the evidence to support abstinence is lacking, but it is a reasonable benign recommendation given the theoretical catastrophic consequences."

They state that there is no evidence to the theory that sex at term can induce labour but that there are no known negative outcomes for women with low-risk pregnancies.

The authors conclude comfort level and readiness to engage in sexual activity should guide both sex during pregnancy as well as in the postpartum period.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Poor sleep could lead to heavier drinking in young adults, study finds

December 8, 2017
A shortened night of sleep may increase young adults' risk of heavier drinking, according to a new Yale study that assessed reciprocal variations in sleep and drinking over time in young adults.

Researchers say nutritional labeling for sodium doesn't work

December 8, 2017
Potato chips, frozen pizza, a fast food hamburger-these foods are popular in the American diet and saturated with sodium. Though eating too much can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, 90 percent of Americans eat ...

Observation care may save more than thought

December 8, 2017
In the world of health care spending policy, it usually works that as Medicare goes so goes private insurance on matters of managing the cost and quality of care.

Screen time before bed linked with less sleep, higher BMIs in kids

December 7, 2017
It may be tempting to let your kids stay up late playing games on their smartphones, but using digital devices before bed may contribute to sleep and nutrition problems in children, according to Penn State College of Medicine ...

Mindful yoga can reduce risky behaviors in troubled youth, says research

December 7, 2017
For some young people, dealing with life stressors like exposure to violence and family disruption often means turning to negative, risky behaviors—yet little is known about what can intervene to stop this cycle.

Teen girls 'bombarded and confused' by sexting requests: study

December 7, 2017
Adolescent women feel intense pressure to send sexual images to men, but they lack the tools to cope with their concerns and the potential consequences, according to new Northwestern University research published Wednesday, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.