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

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

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.