For some women, pregnancy is the best time to get it on.
Not only could your increased blood flow mean more pleasure, but there’s many benefits to sex during pregnancy.
From an elevated mood to pregnancy symptom relief, sexually connecting with your partner has many advantages.
Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?
Sex during pregnancy is safe for most couples and won’t affect the fetus. In fact, as you’ll learn, sex during pregnancy, specifically orgasms, have many health benefits.
Research has shown that for healthy women, intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex is usually safe. Since there’s less research on and more risks with anal sex, some experts advise more caution during pregnancy. Other than that, as long as your doctor doesn’t warn against it, you’re in the clear.
If it’s your first time having sex during pregnancy, it’s normal to feel a bit uncomfortable. Even if you know you can’t harm your baby, you might feel a little anxious. As with many new experiences, this feeling typically dissipates as your comfort increases.
If you’re interested in learning more about sex during pregnancy, read:
- Too Awkward to Ask? 12 Q+As About Sex During Pregnancy
- Bleeding After Sex During Pregnancy. Is It Normal?
Sex During Pregnancy: 12 Benefits
Since many of these advantages are thanks to orgasms, not just sex, it’s important your activities are mutually beneficial.
#1 Is Sex Better When You’re Pregnant? Maybe!
You might wonder, “Is sex better when you’re pregnant?” The answer is highly dependent on the person. However, there’s reasons why sex might feel better while you’re expecting.
During pregnancy, you have an increased blood flow to the genital area. This usually means it’s more sensitive. That can lead to more intense orgasms and being aroused easier while expecting.
Your blood flow also increases in other areas, such as your breasts. For that reason, things you didn’t enjoy before might feel good now.
Even though your libido may skyrocket, don’t feel bad if it doesn’t. Every pregnancy is different and sexual arousal has many factors.
#2 Releases Endorphins
Sex produces endorphins, which act as neurotransmitters and are considered hormones.
Endorphins are commonly referred to as the “feel-good” chemical. They play a role in regulating your mood. They’re similar to opiates with analgesic effects that help numb pain.
A boost of endorphins could mean more happiness, decreased stress, and increased confidence.
#3 Releases Oxytocin
Another reason for many of the benefits on this list? Sex releases oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone or the love chemical. It helps you feel better connected to your partner. It can also promote growth, healing, and trust.
#4 Couple Bonding
Many couples find that sex helps them bond and brings them closer together. This could be for a few reasons.
For one, sex releases oxytocin, which makes you feel better connected to others. It also encourages you to communicate about what feels good. Better communication could transfer outside of the bedroom. And, the elevated mood an orgasm causes can create positive feelings toward your partner.
#5 Improves Sleep
A pregnancy symptom that can affect day-to-day life is insomnia. Some people have trouble falling or staying asleep or experience other sleep disturbances.
When you orgasm, your body releases hormones, like oxytocin. These chemicals help you feel relaxed, which puts you in a better state to fall asleep. Since it reduces cortisol, it also helps lower your stress levels. So, if your pregnancy insomnia is caused by an overthinking and worrying mind, sex could indirectly help.
One study showed that orgasms with a partner were associated with favorable sleep outcomes. And, orgasm through masturbation was associated with better sleep quality and falling asleep more quickly.
For more tips, read Sleeping During Pregnancy: Your Ultimate Guide.
#6 Encourages Communication
During pregnancy, sex is different. Things that felt good might feel bad now. And things that felt bad might feel good. With your growing baby belly, you may prefer some positions over others.
In short, to have good sex during pregnancy, you’ll need to communicate those changes. Getting used to communicating changes now means a better sex life post-pregnancy too.
Apart from those changes, sometimes you might not want sex at all. A 2019 review of research found that the frequency of sex:
- Decreased in the first trimester
- Increased in the second trimester
- Sharply declined between the second and third trimesters
#7 Soothes Pain
Another benefit of oxytocin is that it helps increase pain thresholds. Endorphins also help blunt pain. This is useful when you’re dealing with pregnancy symptoms, like a sore back.
Sometimes, intimacy can cause pain during pregnancy if you’re in an uncomfortable position. As your body changes, experiment with what feels good in each stage.
#8 Helps You Destress
Anecdotally, sex helps you destress in many ways. It makes you feel closer to your partner, orgasms feel good, and you get out of your mind for a period of time.
However, science also proves that sex is good for stress. Like other physical activities, its ability to release endorphins encourages a positive mood.
A 2010 study suggested that people who had less sex reported more daily stress. A 2006 study showed that it can work both ways: Sex can make you less stressed and being less stressed can make you want more sex.
#9 It’s a Form of Exercise
The most commonly cited health benefit of sex is that it’s a form of exercise. Getting your body moving has a variety of benefits, including burning calories.
How many calories you burn during sex depends on a number of factors, like the intensity and time spent having sex. One study found that women burn 69 calories during sex, on average.
Although men typically get more exercise during intimacy, all in all, it’s a mild to moderate exercise activity, according to Harvard. The oxygen consumption is comparable to playing ping pong or raking leaves.
#10 May Reduce Risk of Preeclampsia and Hypertension
One of the benefits of physical activity is that it makes heart problems less likely. The same may be true for sex.
A 2016 research review showed that good sexual quality seemed to protect women from cardiovascular risk later in life. Most specifically, it seemed to reduce their risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
Those benefits aren’t just in the long run though. One study showed that having unprotected sex with the same long-term partner can prime a woman’s immune system for a healthy pregnancy. One advantage could be reduced risk of preeclampsia, AKA high blood pressure during pregnancy.
When researchers looked at women who were diagnosed with preeclampsia, they noticed they were over twice as likely to have had a short sexual relationship with the father. In fact, when the mother-father sexual relationship only lasted three months, the chances of preeclampsia increased by 13%.
#11 Increased Confidence
At first, sex during pregnancy may feel vulnerable because your partner is seeing your naked, changing body. After growing comfortable, the experience can be freeing.
Many women report feeling self-conscious during sex for reasons such as weight. But during pregnancy, you know that extra weight is needed to create a healthy baby. Once you realize how good this newfound confidence is, it’s more likely to carry on past pregnancy, making sex even better.
If you’re having trouble finding that pregnancy confidence, talk to your partner about how you feel. Open up about your insecurities. Often, they’ll provide the reassurance you need for a self-esteem boost.
#12 Sex Can Help Labor Contractions IF You’re Ready
Some people are worried that sex during pregnancy can cause premature labor. Research has shown otherwise, making sex safe for most women expecting.
However, there is some truth to sex causing contractions. If you’re already nearing your due date and you’re ready, sex can encourage labor. That’s because the contractions of an orgasm can act as labor contractions when your belly is already about to pop. So, while sex can’t induce you early, it can be the push you need to speed things up at the end.
Summary: Benefits of Sex During Pregnancy
Sex during pregnancy is safe for most people. Some experience an increased libido while others might not want any sexual contact. Since pregnancy involves changing hormones, know that how you feel is normal.
If your sex drive has increased during pregnancy, you’re not only feeling good, you’re getting a ton of other benefits. Thanks to the release of endorphins and oxytocin, you may feel better bonded to your partner, have less pain, less stress, and other advantages.
P.S. Hear your baby from home! The fetal doppler is a handheld device that allows you to hear your baby and read her fetal heart rate. It’s affordable, easy to use, and provides reassurance to anxious parents.