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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 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

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.

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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