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Can Sex Cause Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?

Being pregnant isn’t the end of sexual enjoyment with your spouse.

But experiencing pain is scary, leading women to wonder: Can sex cause pelvic pain during pregnancy?

Expecting a child is one of the most exciting times of your life, so here’s what to know if you experience discomfort or pain during sex.

You May Be Anxious

Especially if you’re expecting your first child, everything is new, and you may be nervous about having sex as your baby grows. Even women who have already had children may experience different sensations with each pregnancy.

Those feelings of anxiety and perhaps worrying about hurting the baby could mean you’re not experiencing sex in the same way. Unless your doctor has advised otherwise, sex during pregancy is safe. If anxiety is becoming overwhelming, reach out to your health care provider for help and advice.1

Blood Flow is Increased

A physical factor that impacts your sensations is increased blood flow. For instance, your body is sending more blood to support your growing uterus, fetus and placenta. That can create pressure, and perhaps even lead to your vagina becoming swollen.2

For some women, that increased blood flow may enhance sexual pleasure. For others, that can lead to an inflamed uterus and vagina and perhaps discomfort or pain during sex.3

Vaginal Dryness

Your body is changing every day, and hormones contribute to that. One of the changes that can result is vaginal dryness. That can make intercourse uncomfortable or even painful.

To help, you can try changing sex positions, or using a water-based lubricant to help.1

Other Body Changes

There are plenty of other changes going on that will impact your enjoyment of sex. Your growing abdomen and a larger-than-normal uterus sitting lower in your pelvis can contribute to pain during intercourse.1

You may also find yourself going to the bathroom more often, and sex can put pressure on a full bladder, creating discomfort and pain.3

Once again you may want to adjust your sex positions to something more comfortable.1

Another sensation you might experience is mild stomach cramps or contractions during or right after sex. These cramps might happen because the muscles in your uterus contract during orgasm. Cramps can also be triggered by hormones in a male partner’s semen.4

Pelvic Floor Exercises for Pain Relief

To alleviate pelvic pain and discomfort during pregnancy, consider incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your routine. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, strengthen the muscles that support your pelvic organs. Here’s how to perform them:

  1. Identify the Muscles: To find the right muscles, try stopping the flow of urine midstream during a trip to the bathroom. The muscles you engage are your pelvic floor muscles.
  2. Exercise Technique: Contract these muscles by squeezing and lifting them upward, as if you’re trying to hold in urine and gas simultaneously. Hold this contraction for a few seconds, then release.
  3. Repeat Regularly: Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions daily. As your muscles become stronger, gradually increase the duration of each contraction.

Pelvic floor exercises can help reduce discomfort, support your growing uterus, and prepare your pelvic area for labor and childbirth. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized guidance on incorporating these exercises into your routine.

Pelvic Girdle Pain

There’s also a chance you have developed pelvic pain due to a condition called pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain. This is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by a stiffness of your pelvic joints or the joints moving unevenly at either the back or front of your pelvis.5

This condition causes pain over the pubic bone, across one or both sides of your back, and in the area between your vagina and anus. It can sometimes spread to your thighs.5

An early diagnosis of this type of pain can help reduce your discomfort, as there are steps that can be taken such as physiotherapy.5

For most women, these symptoms stop after childbirth, but some continue to suffer. Studies have shown that pain during intercourse and avoidance of sexual intercourse were more frequent among women with pelvic girdle pain.6

Yeast Infections During Pregnancy

Yeast infections during pregnancy can potentially cause pain or discomfort after sex. Yeast infections are common fungal infections that can affect the vagina, and they can occur more frequently during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and an altered vaginal pH balance.

Here’s how a yeast infection can contribute to pain after sex during pregnancy:

  1. Vaginal Discomfort: Yeast infections often lead to symptoms such as itching, burning, and soreness in the vaginal area. These discomforts can intensify during or after sexual intercourse, making post-sex pain more likely.
  2. Inflammation: Yeast infections can cause inflammation of the vaginal tissues, making them more sensitive and prone to irritation during sexual activity. This inflammation can result in discomfort or pain following sex.
  3. Increased Sensitivity: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make the vaginal area more sensitive, and a yeast infection can exacerbate this sensitivity. This heightened sensitivity may lead to pain or discomfort during and after sexual intercourse.

It’s important to note that if you suspect you have a yeast infection during pregnancy and experience pain after sex, you should consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Yeast infections are usually treatable with over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medications that are safe to use during pregnancy.

It Could Be Something More Serious

Your concerns could be warranted if you’re suffering from a more serious condition.

For instance, you could have a genital or pelvic infection, or an ectopic pregnancy.1 You may have a pelvic inflammatory disease, a vaginal or pelvic mass, or a sexually transmitted infection.2 Besides peeing a lot, if you also experience a burning sensation, you may have a urinary tract infection.

Don’t be alarmed, but be sure to reach out to your doctor. Consider scheduling an appointment to review your concerns, particularly if you still feel pain more than an hour after sex.

Symptoms of More Serious Problems

While most discomfort during pregnancy is normal, it’s crucial to be aware of potential signs of more serious problems. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly:

  1. Vaginal Discharge: An unusual or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, especially if it’s accompanied by itching or burning sensations, could be a sign of a vaginal infection. Don’t ignore these symptoms; they may require medical evaluation and treatment to ensure both your and your baby’s health.
  2. Ligament Pain: Pregnancy often brings about stretching and loosening of ligaments to accommodate your growing baby. This can sometimes lead to sharp or stabbing pains in your lower abdomen, known as round ligament pain. While this is typically harmless, consult your healthcare provider if you experience severe or persistent discomfort.
  3. Possible Preterm Labor: If you experience regular contractions, lower back pain, pelvic pressure, or a change in vaginal discharge (such as watery, mucus-like, or bloody discharge), these could be signs of preterm labor. Preterm labor requires immediate medical attention to help prevent premature birth, which can pose risks to your baby’s health.

Seek Diagnosis

Any time you have pain that concerns you, or other alarming signs like a possible infection, you should see a doctor. Your pain could simply be from one of the causes we have mentioned, or it could be a sign of something else.Use our Physician Finder to seek out a women’s health specialist if you experience pain during or after sex, so you can be sure to deal with this and any other health concern during and after your pregnancy.

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