Painful Intercourse During Pregnancy: Is It Normal & What Are the Causes?

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In general, your pregnancy shouldn’t be stopping you from having a pleasant sexual life. Sure, you may have some adjusting to do, but a painful intercourse during pregnancy is more of an exception than it is a rule.

There are, however, several reasons you may be feeling pain, some of which warrant a visit to your OB/GYN. Others have a simpler solution. If you’re experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions but aren’t near your due date yet, the hormones released during intercourse may exacerbate them and end up causing preterm labor. Check with your OB/GYN what to do in such a situation.

Additional note: if there’s any bleeding present during or after intercourse, talk to your OB/GYN immediately. And if they tell you you need to quit it for a while – listen to them. No amount of pleasure is worth putting your baby at risk.

Painful Intercourse During Pregnancy: Potential Reasons

Pain during intercourse in pregnancy may be caused by several things.

Vaginal Dryness

This is most likely to happen during the first trimester. Due to hormonal changes, your vagina may be feeling dry – after all, it’s not expecting (nor needing you!) to have any more sex now that you’ve accomplished your biological goal.

The solution is simple: try using lube. Doctors agree it’s unlikely it can get to your baby. However, checking with your OB/GYN first may be a good idea, too.

Full Bladder

The bigger you get, the more of a problem this is likely to become. If you’re feeling more discomfort than pain, this is likely to be the cause. The simple solution is making sure to go to the bathroom before getting freaky. Yes, it’s not the most romantic thing to do, but it will definitely help you enjoy sex during pregnancy more.


Having painful intercourse during pregnancy may be caused by contractions. While they may appear as early as in the first trimester, they’re more likely to be an issue after week 20 of your pregnancy. False contractions are even more prone to appear in the third trimester. The combination of Oxytocin (which gets secreted during intercourse, especially during orgasm) and sperm is probably going to exacerbate them.

Now, if your contractions aren’t frequent, this shouldn’t be an issue. But if they are, due to the fear of preterm labor, your OB/GYN will likely suggest you stop having sex. For that reason, be sure to clear it with them before continuing to have your regular sex life.

Enlarged Vulva

If your vulva is enlarged, it’s only natural you won’t be enjoying sex as much as you used to. This enlargement may happen either due to swelling or due to enlarged veins, both of which are caused by the hormonal changes in pregnancy. This is something you’ll want to take up with your OB/GYN to see if there’s anything safe to use which might help the situation.


This is another thing you’ll definitely want to check with your OB/GYN before continuing to have painful intercourse. If the pain is joined with any sort of itching, prickling, or redness, especially if they show up when you’re peeing as well, you likely have an infection. Strange smell may be another indication. Not only do you want to solve that for the sake of your baby, but you also want to be sure not to pass anything to your partner.

Heavy Uterus

Finally, once your baby gets big and your uterus heavy – especially in the third trimester – certain sexual positions you used to enjoy may start causing you pain. You may experience dull or, less often, sharp pain during sexually active pregnancy the closer your due date gets. This is especially true if you’re carrying low – in which case your OB/GYN may even advise against having sex.

If they’re not and you’re free to have an active sexual life, try to change it up a bit and experiment with some new positions. Be patient until you find what’s working.

Now, let’s cover one more area that gets asked often.

Which Month is Safe to Have Intercourse During Pregnancy?

The great news is: all of the months are safe if your partner is not being aggressive, and if there aren’t any counter indications. Your baby is very safe due to amniotic fluid, even as they get bigger. So feel free to enjoy your sexual life so long as it’s not causing you any discomfort.

Painful Intercourse During Pregnancy: Bottom Line

While you can expect to not have any issues with sexual intercourse during pregnancy, pain and discomfort are also normal sometimes. Try to determine what the cause is, whether you can solve it alone or if you need to talk to your OB/GYN… And if they advise against having sexual intercourse, as much as it sucks, listen to them. There’ll be plenty of time for that once your precious one is out in the world!

Up for another reading? See if cats are really dangerous for pregnant ladies!


A 27-year-old married mom-to-be, trying to have it all. I have a full-time job I enjoy, a home I’m in love with, and plenty of hobbies I try my best to have the time for. A psychologist by vocation, with the goal of helping young women live their best lives.

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