Sexual Activity

The potential for adverse effects of sexual activity, particularly intercourse, during pregnancy has been of concern for some time due to the potential for direct effects of semen on initiating preterm labor, alteration of vaginal microflora, or other hypothesized pathways leading to preterm birth. Much of the interest and research on this question appeared in the 1980s, with consistent evidence that remaining sexually active during pregnancy was not associated with pre-term birth (Rayburn & Wilson, 1980; Mills et al., 1981; Klebanoff et al., 1984). There was some suggestion that intercourse in the presence of certain infections, namely Trichomonoa vaginalis and Mycoplasm hominis, might increase risk for preterm birth (Read & Klebanoff, 1993), but more recent studies have continued to report not just an absence of increased risk associated with sexual activity but a notably diminished risk of preterm birth (Sayle et al., 2003). This may well be a reflection of selection for remaining sexually active, i.e., having a partner who may provide social support, having an absence of contraindications to remaining active, and the subjective sense of well-being that motivates continued activity.

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