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Sexual Intercourse During Pregnancy: Benefits, Complications And Sex For Induction Of Labour

Pregnancy is a critical period in the life of a woman which may restrain her from maintaining sexual relationships with her partner. A pregnant woman may feel cessation from sexual activity due to many changes in her body along with the fear and myths related to the negative effect of sexual intercourse on the health of both the mother and the child. [1]

However, sexual activity during pregnancy is not harmful if its frequency is limited. Also, the desire tends to decrease with the advancement of gestational age, maybe due to a decrease in the achievement of sexual satisfaction and an increase in painful sex.

In this article, we will discuss the association of sexual intercourse with pregnancy. Take a look.

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Sexual Functioning In Each Trimester

Sexuality is vital for human life which also determines their well being. Pregnancy alters sexual activity throughout the pregnancy. According to a study, the sexual behaviour of a pregnant woman can be concluded by four factors: hormonal, emotional, anatomical and psychological that tend to vary at each trimester.

1. First trimester

This is marked as an adaptation period in which women's bodies adapt to neurohormonal changes. As the first three months of pregnancy are crucial, women may withdraw themselves from any form of sexual activity, mainly due to myths of miscarriage or fetal damage.

A study found that women who were not knowing about their pregnancy in the early gestation had more sexual intercourse compared to those who knew from the very beginning. This shows that women who were interested in their sex life may feel to continue with the process throughout their pregnancy while those who were not interested may feel to avoid it, making their pregnancy as an excuse. [2]

2. Second trimester

In this phase, sexual desire usually increases compared to the first trimester. [3] This is because of the reduction in pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, digestive issues, fatigue and many others. Also, concerns related to miscarriage during early gestation is reduced after three months that increase self-confidence with a greater interest in sexuality.

A study highlights that sexual fantasies and dreams are enriched during the second trimester due to several physiological and hormonal changes such as increased blood flow in the reproductive organs and faster vaginal wetting. This period is known for great sexual satisfaction. [4]

3. Third trimester

This period is marked by the lowest episodes of sexual activity. In the third trimester, women may observe the lowest level of libido, breast tenderness pain during sex. Also, the chances of infection are more in around 6-7 weeks of the expected date. [5]

Many studies highlight the point that sexual intercourse during the third trimester can initiate labour early to the due date. This is why experts recommend avoiding sex for the management and prevention of preterm labour.

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Sex For Induction Of Labour

This topic is controversial as the evidence to support the theory is only limited to fewer studies. A study says that sexual intercourse just before the expected date can induce early labour in pregnant women. This is because of the male semen that may accelerate the cervix maturation before its actual time. Also, other sexual activities like nipple and genital stimulation cause the release of oxytocin that may stimulate contractions of the uterus and lead to early labour. [6]

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Benefits Of Having Sex During pregnancy

1. Intense orgasms

Pregnancy increases the production of two hormones in the body: oestrogen and progesterone. When oestrogen increases, the flow of blood to the pelvic area also increases, making the woman feel more aroused. [7]

2. Helps in pregnancy weight control

Pregnancy obesity is linked to both short and long-term pregnancy complications. Intercourse helps control weight during gestation. It is the best form of an exercise that may help women control their pregnancy weight gain. [8]

3. Lowers blood pressure

Gestational hypertension is common after 20 weeks of pregnancy due to increased blood flow in the body parts. Sex helps regulate blood pressure and keep away all types of pregnancy-related complications. [9]

4. Reduces pain

Acute back pain during pregnancy is common. Some studies say that sex can be a natural remedy for reducing back pain compared to prescribed medications. Also, oxytocin released during sex can relieve pain and induce relaxation.

5. Induce sleep

Sex release a hormone called endorphins which are known to reduce stress and induce good sleep. Therefore, lovemaking can be an effective remedy for better sleep, especially if a mother has some kind of sleeping disorders.

6. Good for immunity

Immunity is essential during gestation for the good health of both the mother and the child. Pregnancy increases the level of IgA antibodies in the body that helps boost maternal immunity and prevent seasonal cold and flu.

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Complications Of Sex During Pregnancy

1. Preterm labour

Sex during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm labour. This is mainly due to cervical ripening caused by semen and release of oxytocin due to nipple and genital stimulation. However, the study needs more evidence. [10]

2. Pelvic inflammatory disease

Chronic upper genital tract infection can occur during the first trimester due to the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. However, the risk decreases after the 12 weeks of gestation due to natural barriers created in the uterine cavity. [11]

3. Haemorrhage to placenta

A study suggests that contact of the penis with the cervix during intercourse can increase haemorrhage risk of the baby. Other studies based on ultrasound show that it is not possible for the penis to disturb the setting of the placenta. The data needs more evidence. [12]

4. Venous air embolism

It is rare but can be life-threatening. Venous air embolism is characterised by blockage in the blood circulation due to air bubbles in veins or the heart. Intercourse can cause air to be blown into the vagina and then to the circulation of the placenta, causing the death of both the mother and the fetus in a short period. [13]

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To Conclude

Sexual intercourse during pregnancy is normal. There are many proven benefits as well as downsides which can make pregnant women and their partner confused about its safety during the gestation. Discuss with a medical expert about the safety and risks of intercourse during pregnancy according to your gestational health.