Will Having Sex Hurt My Baby? And Other Pregnancy Sex Myths
By Emma McGowan
Here’s a super weird thing about pregnancy: It usually requires sex, but then we all act like sex doesn’t happen once someone is pregnant. And while some pregnant people might choose not to have sex for the full gestation period, it’s safe to say that the majority do have sex.
“Sex during pregnancy is something that isn’t always talked about,” Kaci A. Mial, M.Ed., CSC, a pregnancy sex coach and educator, tells Ohnut. “A lot of shame can come up. And there might be a lot of stuff coming up that people don’t know who to ask [about it].”
As a result of all this not talking about it, there are a lot of myths out there about sex during pregnancy. Here are some of the top ones — and the truth behind them.
"I'm worried I'm going to hurt the baby"
This is absolutely the number one myth about sex during pregnancy: That doing it is going to hurt the baby somehow.
“The partner who is penetrating is typically fearful that the toy or penis going into the vagina can actually touch the fetus or baby or that it will create harm or induce preterm labor,” Mial says. “But the cervix is at the end of the vagina and creates a barrier between whatever object is in the vagina and where the fetus or baby is in the uterus.”
People are also often concerned that banging together could squish or dislodge the baby. But, Mial says, the baby is also protected by amniotic fluid and “everything it needs to stay safe.” So unless your doctor or midwife has specifically told you not to have sex during pregnancy for a medical reason, sex is generally safe for the baby or fetus.
"What if I get the baby pregnant?"
Y’all, I’m going to have to put this one on the head of the severe lack of sex education in our country, because it is a concern for some people and it absolutely does not need to be. So here’s the breakdown of how this works:
- The baby cannot get pregnant, even if it has a vagina, because a person has to start ovulating and having their period before they can get pregnant. That usually happens in the tween and teen years, so that fetus has a long way to go.
- The baby is surrounded by an amniotic sac and amniotic fluid, so even if it somehow was fertile — which, again, is literally impossible — the sperm would never reach it. Think of it as floating inside a water balloon.
So just to be super clear: There is absolutely no way, no matter what, that you could impregnate a fetus or baby that is currently inside a uterus.
"I'm going to get pregnant again"
One of the advantages of having sex when you’re pregnant is not having to worry about getting pregnant, right? But some people are worried about getting pregnant again while they’re already pregnant.
This type of double pregnancy is not twins but instead is called “superfetation,” and it’s when two fetuses are conceived at different times, both implant, and both come to term. As with many things about the human body, it’s not impossible — but it’s very, very, very, very, extremely unlikely. One study from 2008 found only 10 cases in all of the scientific literature studying the phenomenon. So it’s safe to say that you don’t need to worry about getting pregnant when you’re already pregnant.
"My partner is going to cheat because I'm pregnant"
Fears that a partner is going to cheat while you’re pregnant are, unfortunately, pretty common. Pregnant people might feel less attractive as their body shape changes or their interest in sex might drop, leaving them feeling very vulnerable.
While of course it sometimes does happen, there’s no increased risk of cheating associated with pregnancy. And the key to protecting yourself against this is the same as the key to protecting yourself against cheating during any time in a relationship: Communication.
“Some people don’t want to have sex during pregnancy for various reasons and, in turn, the partner can feel left out or not wanted or not desired,” Mial says. “But I would just encourage those partners to have a conversation about what they can individually do to maintain pleasure during that time, so that cheating doesn’t have to be an option.”
"All women get crazy horny during pregnancy"
Maybe you saw this in a movie or someone you know experienced an increase in desire during their pregnancy. It happens, for sure! But it doesn’t happen to every pregnant person, which is important both for pregnant people and their partners not to put too much expectation on themselves.
“If it’s going to happen, it most commonly occurs in second or third trimester when things like nausea have passed,” Mial says. “But also some people begin feeling more uncomfortable again in third trimester, so typically second trimester is the sweet spot.”
"You have to have sex to get pregnant"
This one might surprise you, but you don’t actually have to have sex to get pregnant! These days, people get pregnant in all kinds of ways. There’s artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor eggs, surrogacy — even men can get pregnant, as long as they were born with uteruses! So while penis-in-vagina sex is still the tried and true method for the majority of people who are looking to get pregnant, it’s by no means the only one.
Pregnancy is complicated, fascinating, and not discussed enough, so no wonder there are so many myths about it! There’s enough going on, so, don’t worry: You don’t have to be concerned about most of these.