Sneha and Arun walked into my cabin. The couple was excited as they were expecting their the first baby. It was Sneha’s third month of pregnancy and her second visit to me. This time Arun’s mother was also accompanying the couple. The mother looked happy and watchful too.
After the consultation we had a quick chat and then they got up to leave. This time Arun allowed his mother to exit the room first and turned back to me with a shy smile. Sneha had an expression on her face as if she were in a dilemma. Whether to ask or not ask? And I knew the question that was gong to come my way. As expected, the question was about whether they could have sex or no?
Most Indian couples do not discuss this doubt with anyone. They rely on myths and beliefs or lay literature. This further adds to confusion! Like the famous Shakesphere’s quote from Hamlet paraphrased in this situation as “To do or not to do, that is the real (unanswered) question” for young couples. Commonly people believe that sex during pregnancy is a big no – no. People believe that intercourse can harm the pregnancy. Surprisingly many doctors also advice the same to their patients! While few advice not to have sex in first three months and some advice not to have sex when the bump grows bigger! So what does the evidence say?
Well, there is a clear scientific evidence that sex during pregnancy can not harm the baby per say. However there are few conditions such as placenta praevia( placenta is low placed), repeated miscarriages, opened up or short cervix, previous premature deliveries or if there is bleeding or leaking most doctors will advise against intercourse. It is important to understand that the baby is inside a balloon of water which is inside the uterus. The lower end of the uterus called cervix is closed and plugged with a mucus plug which does not allow entry of even germs (microorganisms) upwards.
The baby inside the balloon of water in the uterus which has closed cervix.
However it is also important to understand that although the baby is protected the woman can contact infections from her male partner. These infections could be simple fungal infection, bacterial, viral infection too. In order to prevent such infections it is better to use a condom (or barrier contraceptive). During the pregnancy the hormones in the body surge making the tissues softer and congested. So a pregnant woman may rarely experience few drops of bleeding after intercourse.
So here are few tips for the young couples:
- In first three months pregnant woman may feel exhausted due to nausea, vomiting and may not feel interested in sex. The partner must understand her problem and support her.
- In second trimester and third trimester, the increasing bump needs to be taken into consideration. Change of position may help. Many women find “side to side” or “woman on top” position more comfortable.
- After six months most women may find it more and more uncomfortable. Some may feel minimal uterine contractions which are “innocent”.
- Intimacy does not necessarily mean penetrative sexual intercourse. The couple can make love without penetrative intercourse too.
In this delicate period of pregnancy women undergo a complete emotional and physical turmoil. The partners must encourage her, caress her, support her.
Sexual intercourse is perfectly fine if the woman is comfortable. Expression of love is important and being intimate is a necessity.
The author is Medical Director, Cloudnine Hospital