Pregnancy, Sex, and Orgasms: Everything You Need to Know

For most people, being intimate with your partner during pregnancy is absolutely OK, if that's what you want. Listen to your body and do what feels best.

Updated January 17, 2023
Pregnant woman and her husband in bed

When you're pregnant, it can feel like everything about your body and life has changed, including your sex life. Some pregnant people notice their orgasms are more intense and pleasurable, while others struggle to get there. And for some, physical intimacy with a partner is the last thing they're thinking about, thanks to pregnancy symptoms like nausea and fatigue. Changes in sexual desire and the way orgasms feel are perfectly normal during pregnancy.

Sex and Orgasm During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Regardless of whether your libido is higher or lower than usual, sex is safe during pregnancy. If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, sex is safe and won't harm you or your baby. Research shows that sex and orgasm do not cause or increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm labor.

There's no need to worry about hurting your baby during sex, while masturbating, or when you orgasm. Your baby is safe and well-protected in the amniotic sac. In fact, research suggests that a pregnant person's sexual activity may be beneficial to a fetus. Increased blood circulation that occurs during sex and orgasm may deliver a boost of oxygen and nutrients to your baby through the placenta.

How Pregnancy Affects Orgasms

Physiological changes that occur during pregnancy can have a significant impact on your sex drive and the way orgasms feel. Like so many other pregnancy experiences, these changes vary from person to person. Fluctuating hormone levels throughout pregnancy can make the way you feel about sex and orgasms change, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy.

More Frequent and Intense Orgasms

Increased blood flow to your pelvic region during pregnancy may increase sensitivity in the genitals and lead to enhanced pleasure. This heightened sensitivity can lead to stronger, better orgasms for some pregnant people. Some may even experience multiple orgasms for the first time. The dramatic rise in sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, may enhance libido and intensify orgasms during pregnancy, too.

Fewer and Less Intense Orgasms

Many pregnant people notice a significant decline in their sex drive during pregnancy. Early pregnancy symptoms in the first trimester, such as nausea, fatigue, and breast tenderness, can make it challenging to get "in the mood." By the second trimester, most of the exhaustion and sickness you experienced in the first trimester has hopefully passed. As you start to feel better, your libido may return. But you may find it difficult to reach orgasm or may have less satisfying orgasms when you do climax. The increased size of your uterus plays a role in the changes to orgasm intensity.

Research shows that a decrease in orgasms and libido happens progressively throughout pregnancy. By the third trimester, most pregnant people have less intense and less frequent orgasms. Back pain, weight gain, hormonal fluctuations, and lower energy levels can make sex and orgasms more difficult for many pregnant people in the later stages of pregnancy.

How Orgasms Affect the Uterus in Pregnancy

When you have an orgasm, the muscles of your pelvic floor and uterus contract. These uterine contractions are a normal part of orgasm and can last up to 30 minutes post-climax. Post-orgasm contractions may make your belly feel hard, but the intensity of the contractions should diminish pretty quickly.

Can Having an Orgasm Induce Labor?

Some pregnant people worry that having an orgasm may trigger preterm labor, and others may try to orgasm in the hopes of getting labor started. The enduring old wives' tale that sex can help bring on labor when you're past or close to your due date is a myth. Contrary to popular belief, research shows that orgasms cannot induce labor.

At the onset of labor, the placenta will stimulate oxytocin production to initiate contractions and prepare the body for delivery. Oxytocin is released during sex and orgasm, but it does not initiate labor unless the body is already primed and ready. The exception is if your pregnancy is high-risk. People with high-risk pregnancies (e.g., carrying multiples, history of preterm labor, incompetent cervix) may be advised by their healthcare provider to restrict sexual activities. If you're not sure, talk to your midwife or obstetrician.

Talk to your Healthcare Provider

For most people, sex and orgasms are perfectly safe and healthy at every stage of pregnancy. When you're in the mood, sex with a partner or masturbation can be a great way to relieve stress and enhance your sense of well-being during pregnancy. Whether you're having the best orgasms of your life during pregnancy or are struggling to climax, your experience is normal. Talk to your healthcare provider about any of your concerns and questions about sex and orgasm during pregnancy.

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Pregnancy, Sex, and Orgasms: Everything You Need to Know