Sex During Pregnancy
By Todd Caldecott
In some traditional cultures there is a prevailing belief that when
women are pregnant they are too "fragile" or "pure" to have sex. Of
course this is patriarchal nonsense, similar to the old beliefs that a
menstruating women is dirty, dulls knives, wilts flowers, sours grapes
and makes dogs go rabid.
Different women will display different proclivities during their
pregnancy: for some, sex is a total turn off; for others, sexual desire
is really only strong during certain periods of the pregnancy; whereas
for yet still others, they find their sexual appetite increased. My
rule of thumb is that I leave it up to the woman, as she is the best
judge of what her needs are.
In Ayurveda, sex is one of the pillars of the life, like food and
sleep, and if the desire exists it should not be suppressed
of course one of the challenges is to find a comfortable position, but
with the gentleness of her partner, the help of some pillows and a
willingness to experiment the couple can easily find a pleasurable
There are some special issues to be recognized however - during sexual
stimulation and especially orgasm, the hormone oxytocin is released,
which has a positive effect upon uterine contraction - thus sex during
a threat of miscarriage is probably best avoided.
In Ayurveda sexual activity is limited during the delicate times of the
pregnancy, in the early months (e.g. the first trimester), and around
the 8th month, when the flow of ojas is shared between mother and baby.
There are a few key benefits however, of sex late in the pregnancy -
old midwives know that one of the best ways to jump start a stalled
labor is to stimulate the woman's nipples and clitoris - like I
mentioned, this promotes the flow of oxytocin, which can get help to
reinitiate uterine contraction.
While this is a better option than synthetic oxytocin, it admittedly
sounds a little awkward and one solution is to simply encourage the
woman and her partner to spend a little "strategic" time together - in
this respect, semen has the added benefit of containing prostaglandins
that helps to soften the cervix and stimulate contraction - regular
sexual intercourse in a woman past her due date can be similarly
helpful - of course, the couple's hygiene should be meticulous.
I thought this would also be a good opportunity to plug a North
American herb called Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) - Blue
Cohosh is an oxytocin agonist, and is one of the better herbs to use
for a woman past her due date, in stalled labor, and postpartum to
relieve after pains - I often combine it with similarly acting herbs
such as Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and Patridgeberry (Mitchella
Post-partum, sex can be helpful to promote the involution or
"shrinking" of the uterus, to strengthen the abdominal muscles, and can
be helpful to promote milk production and let-down (making for some
rather "sticky" situations...) - of course, sexual intercourse should
only be initiated after any perineal bruising, tearing or lacerations
have healed - post-partum sex can be helpful to make the woman feel
special and loved, at a time when it is hard for her to establish a
sense of identity separate from the baby (babies of course, think that
mommy's body is simply an extension of their own, sometimes well into
Todd Caldecott is a clinical herbalist, and known for his crisp and informative articles on Ayurveda. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit him at ToddCaldecott.com.
We will let Todd do a lot of talking on Ayurveda and herbs in this section in days to come..