Primer Helps Doctors Counsel About Sex in Pregnancy

Sex in pregnancy generally considered safe, little evidence that sex at term induces labor

TUESDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Sex during pregnancy is generally safe, and abstinence should be recommended only for women at risk of preterm labor or antepartum hemorrhage due to placenta previa, according to a primer published online Jan. 31 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Claire Jones, M.D., of the University of Toronto, and colleagues presented a primer based on a review of current evidence to help physicians counsel their patients about sex during pregnancy.

The investigators found that sex during pregnancy is generally safe, with few complications or risks in low-risk pregnancies. Potential risks of sex during pregnancy are rare, and include premature labor, pelvic inflammatory disease, hemorrhage due to placenta previa, and venous air embolism. In low-risk pregnancies, frequent intercourse was associated with an increased risk of premature labor only in women with lower genital tract infections. Although the authors found limited evidence to suggest that refraining from sex can prevent preterm labor or that sex can lead to hemorrhage in placenta previa, they suggest abstinence is a simple intervention that, until better evidence emerges, can be recommended to high-risk populations. There was no evidence to support the theory that sex at term can induce labor. The authors suggest that resumption of intercourse postpartum be guided by women's level of comfort.

"Sex in pregnancy is normal. There are very few proven contraindications and risks to intercourse in low-risk pregnancies, and therefore these patients should be reassured," the authors write.

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