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Can Sex During Pregnancy Cause a Miscarriage?

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Updated January 15, 2009

Question: Can Sex During Pregnancy Cause a Miscarriage?

Many couples, especially those who have had previous miscarriages, often worry about whether it is safe to engage in intimacy during pregnancy -- and the answer is usually yes.

Answer:

Many couples, especially those who have had previous miscarriages, often worry about whether it is safe to engage in intimacy during pregnancy -- and the answer is usually yes.

Knowing that the uterus contracts during orgasm, it's natural to worry that sex during pregnancy could cause problems when you've had past miscarriages. But for the vast majority of women, there is no evidence that sex during pregnancy causes anything bad to happen.

Although research is sparse on first trimester miscarriages, numerous studies have found no association between sexual activity and preterm birth. There's an old wives' tale that having intercourse in later pregnancy can bring on labor, but the evidence does not support it.

One study looking at women with full term pregnancies who were scheduled for inductions found that couples who increased their sexual activity did not improve the odds of the women having spontaneous labor. For the majority of pregnant women, sexual activity and orgasm simply do not seem to affect the pregnancy.

Doctors do sometimes recommend that some patients with specific medical issues avoid intercourse during pregnancy, such as patients with placenta previa or cervical insufficiency. Your doctor will let you know if these conditions are a factor in your situation. When in doubt, however, ask your doctor if you are concerned. It can be hard to talk about these things with a doctor sometimes, but if you're feeling embarrassed, remember that doctors -- especially OB/GYNs -- see patients with similar concerns every day and they will not think it's weird for you to ask questions about sex.

Sources:

Klebanoff, M.A., R.P. Nugent, and G.G. Rhoads, "Coitus During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?." Oct 1984. Accessed 22 Jun 2008.

Tan, Peng Chiong, Choon Ming Yow, and Siti Zawiah Omar, "Effect of Coital Activity on Onset of Labor in Women Scheduled for Labor Induction." 2007. Accessed 22 Jun 2008.

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