Can I have sex during pregnancy?

Yes. A loving physical relationship is important for your wellbeing during pregnancy, and sex is sometimes suggested as a way of bringing on labour when you're full term.

There's no medical evidence to suggest that sex during pregnancy does any harm to the baby. Your baby is well cushioned by a sac of fluid (the amniotic sac) well beyond the neck of the womb (cervix), and your partner's penis can't penetrate beyond your vagina.

You may be advised not to have sex at certain stages of pregnancy if you have a history of miscarriage or premature labour, or if you have a low-lying placenta. 

The Royal College of Gynaecologists has more information about low-lying placenta after 20 weeks (PDF, 617kb). You can also learn more about when to avoid sex in pregnancy. You should speak to your doctor or midwife if any of these situations apply to you or if you have any worries.

You may notice mild contractions during and after sex, but they are not powerful enough to start labour if your body is not ready. If it is ready, sex may help to start labour – substances called prostaglandins are contained in semen and can help soften the cervix. Hormones released by nipple stimulation also encourage the womb to contract.

Many couples find that pregnancy improves their sex life and presents an opportunity to find new ways of having sex by trying different positions to find one that's comfortable. 

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 29/03/2015

Next review due: 28/03/2017