Embracing sex during pregnancy without worry


Dear Dr. G,

Valentine’s Day is one day I look forward to every year.

My wife and I actually met and also got married on Valentine’s Day.

We always enjoy this special day together with a romantic dinner, bathing and lovemaking to spice up our relationship.

However, this year might be different as my wife is six months pregnant.

Although I am over the moon with our first child, I am also consciously cautious about the risk of sex during pregnancy.

After five years together, my wife was pregnant last year, but sadly ended up with a miscarriage. Personally, I blame the strenuous sex.

Thankfully, she is pregnant again. I am determined to be more careful this time.

In fact, we have not have sex since I discovered she was pregnant.

YES! Six months without sex! This is frustrating for both of us.

Recently, I noticed my wife is keener for sex, despite the bulging tummy. I am not sure all these are just my imagination.

Therefore, before the Big Love Day, I am hoping to put Dr. G on the spot for clarification about the risks and pleasure of Sex during pregnancy.

Lets deal with the risks first. Is sex safe during pregnancy?

Can strenuous sex harm the fetus resulting in miscarriage?

On the other hand, why has my wife’s libido gone up while pregnant?

Is it natural to have such a response and how long will this last?

I am cautious, but yet really looking forward to a long overdue love making on Valentine’s Day. Can Dr G help?

Yours truly,

Valentines Vincent

Sex during pregnancy is generally perceived to be a low-risk behavior, as the fetus is protected from the thrusting penis by the cervix and the amniotic fluid.

However, intercourse has also been implicated in premature labor and ruptured uterus. The doctors tend to advise pregnant mothers that engaging in “cautious” sexual activities during pregnancy throughout the gravidity is safe.

I, myself, find it difficult to define how “cautious” is “cautious sex” during intercourse.

Miscarriage is a natural death of a fetus before it is able to survive independently. Miscarriage is the most common complication during early pregnancy.

It is estimated to affect 10% to 20% women who are aware of the pregnancy, and the prevalence can rise to 30% to 50% of all fertilisations.

Some 80% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester, with half of them caused by fetal chromosomal abnormalities. The majority of the causes of spontaneous abortion are idiopathic, and unrelated to sex.

Most expectant fathers worry about sex harming the baby. In reality, the womb is really quite high up in the pelvis, therefore sexual penetration has no chance of reaching it (even though men may think they are very blessed in that department).

High-Risk Pregnancies such as Placenta Previa and Cervical Insufficiency may, however, increase the threat of miscarriage. Therefore, doctors may advise couples to go easy on sex only for certain high-risk pregnancies.

The other worry men have is the risk of sexual climax inducing excessive vaginal contraction, putting the fetus at risk. In reality, the contractions during female orgasm are different from the contractions associate with labor. Hence, there is absolutely no risk of uterine contraction causing premature birth.

It is a cultural tendency not to associate expectant mothers with heightened sexuality. Many women may lose the desire for sex during easy pregnancy, not just because of the size, but also pre-occupation with the impending delivery.

The fluctuating hormones, fatigue, nausea, weight gain and back pain can certainly dampen the mood for sex as the pregnancy progresses.

In recent studies, it is noted that decreased libido may only be obvious in the first trimester, but enhanced after the third month. Pregnant women reported greater sexual satisfaction, as the natural release of sex hormones is related to the feeling of happiness and attractiveness. The hormones also enhanced blood flow to the breasts and vulva, resulting in enhanced erogenous sensitivity. In the later stages of pregnancy, sexual activities have also been suggested as a way to prepare the maturation of the cervix before delivery, as the natural prostaglandin from the semen makes the cervix more flexible for dilation.

Preconceived ideas and the cultural taboo of sex and pregnancy is often the first obstacle to enjoying sex during pregnancy.

The additional complication of an unrelated prior miscarriage, inevitably adds guilt and caution that can only dampen the intimacy.

One of the most romantic Valentine’s Day quotes from Franklin P. Jones states: “Love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”

On this auspicious third day of Chinese New Year and an affection-filled Valentines Day, Dr G is honored to be put on the spot to highlight the minimal risks and maximal pleasure of sex during pregnancy.

Last but not the least, Dr G would like to take the opportunity on this loving Valentine’s Day to wish all lovers out there (pregnant or not) to embrace the day and enjoy the ride!

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Dr George Lee

Dr George Lee

Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. This column is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at askdrg@thestar.com.my

   

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