Pregnancy and Sex: Sex Positions, Safer Sex and More


On today’s episode of The Tyra Banks Show, I – along with two smart, engaging and fun ob/gyns, Dr. Shieva Ghofrani and Dr. Afriye Emerson – discussed myths and facts related to pregnancy. Being a sex researcher and educator, I focused on debunking common sex myths related to conception and pregnancy and provided tips for enjoyable sex during pregnancy. Tune into Tyra’s show for all the details! In addition to the information I provided on-air, here are 5 facts to know about sex, conception and pregnancy:

1. There is no one sex position that is a sure-fire way to conceive. The bottom line about sex positions and pregnancy is that a couple should aim to get ejaculate inside the vagina – and it doesn’t hurt to keep as much of it inside a woman’s vagina as possible for a little while. Granted, much of it will come out at some point – when a man withdraws his penis, when a woman stands up, or when she goes to the bathroom. That is okay – it’s just gravity doing its job! Fortunately there are so many sperm in a typical amount of ejaculate that there are often more than enough available, even after much of the ejaculate leaves a woman’s vagina, for a couple to have a fair chance at becoming pregnant. Sex positions that are likely to keep a fair amount of ejaculate inside a woman’s vagina include missionary, raised legs missionary (for the very flexible – woman lying on her back with her hips tilted up and legs in the air, similar to the Plow position in yoga), the coital alignment technique (discussed here), the shoulder holder (discussed here) and spooning positions. [Learn more about adapting sex positions in my new book Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.]

2. For most women, it is safe to have sex during pregnancy. Because every pregnancy is different, you should always ask your healthcare provider questions about your own pregnancy and any potential risks. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to have sex during pregnancy. In most cases, women can continue to have sex during pregnancy right up until the day they deliver. Having a high risk pregnancy or a history of miscarriage are some of the concerns that might prompt a woman’s doctor to advise against sex during pregnancy. [Learn more about healthy pregnancy in Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth.]

3. Sex changes during pregnancy. Just because most women can have sex during pregnancy doesn’t mean that it feels exactly the same as it used to. Although some women report increased levels of sexual desire during pregnancy, desire often decreases during pregnancy. A woman’s ease of orgasm may change during pregnancy, too. For some, orgasm feels easier to attain, as more blood fills the pelvic cavity thus putting (possibly pleasant) pressure on a woman’s genitals. For others, orgasm feels more difficult to attain, perhaps particularly if they find it difficult to find a comfortable position in which to have sex. Try to be gentle with yourself and your partner during this time. Pregnancy is a dynamic process that no couple can possible adequately prepare for – one cannot predict what it will feel like to be pregnant or how one’s body will change.

4. Sex positions change during pregnancy. As a woman’s pregnancy – and her belly – grows, comfortable sex positions change, too. Missionary may be a position that many couples use to try to become pregnant, but fewer couples engage in missionary during the late second trimester or during the third trimester. In fact, a few research studies have suggested that the missionary position may pose risks during the third trimester. Couples often find that woman-on-top, spooning and rear entry sex positions are more comfortable as a woman’s pregnancy reaches its later stages.

5. Be mindful. To reduce risk to yourself and your baby while pregnant, consider avoiding cunnilingus (receiving oral sex from a partner) if your partner has cold sores on their mouth or if you know that your partner has oral herpes (herpes on their mouth). If you are prone to yeast infections, you also might want to avoid receiving oral sex while pregnant as pregnant women are already more vulnerable to yeast infections and cunnilingus can raise this risk even more for some women. Finally, if you are having sex with a new partner while pregnant or with someone who you suspect may be at risk for infections, use a condom or enjoy sexual activities other than vaginal intercourse such as breast play, sensual massage or hand stimulation of each other’s genitals.

Follow me on Twitter – I am @mysexprofessor.

Related MSP Articles:
- How does sex change after childbirth?
- Postpartum depression, antidepressants and breastfeeding
- How to be happier in your relationship: emotional bids
- Me, Tyra and My Wondrous Vulva Puppet (Fall 2008 episode)

You can learn more about sex and pregnancy in a brief article I wrote for Indiana University’s Active for Life newsletter – click HERE to read it – or in the brief backstage video I taped for the Tyra Banks Show about sex and pregnancy (pictured below; click HERE to view it). debby-herbenick-on-tyra-banks-show-talking-about-sex-during-pregnancy

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at

  • christine

    Debby! I saw you on Tyra yesterday and have to say you looked absolutely gorgeous. I kept thinking, “I know her! She’s my friend!” Needless to say I was very proud. xo

  • christine

    Debby! I saw you on Tyra yesterday and have to say you looked absolutely gorgeous. I kept thinking, “I know her! She’s my friend!” Needless to say I was very proud. xo

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