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Cramps and Contractions After Sex During Pregnancy

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Did you really think cramps would end when you stopped having your period for nine months? Welcome to pregnancy and all the little aches and pains — and yes, cramps in your legs, back and abdominal area — that come with it. Including after sex.

Is cramping after orgasm or sex normal?

Yes, and in most cases it’s par for the course. Sometimes post-sex cramps in your abs and groin area come with spotting or a little extra blood flow, too. Neither of these symptoms should be remotely embarrassing, nor are they usually a reason to worry or give up on sex, but it’s always a good idea to run them by your practitioner for reassurance.

What causes cramping after sex?

Cramping after sex during pregnancy can have a few possible causes.

  • Cramping or painful twinges that may feel like contractions during or after orgasm in a normal, low-risk pregnancy are likely caused by increased blood flow to your abdominal area, as well as natural changes that make your cervix more sensitive.
  • Menstrual-like cramps around conception can be caused by implantation.
  • Rarely, cramps after sex may actually be labor contractions — especially if they're painful enough to make you double over or are accompanied by blood flow that won't stop. That could be a sign of something more serious, including early labor, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Give your practitioner a call right away
  • You'll also want to talk to your doctor if your post-sex cramps come with symptoms like severe dizziness or headache to rule out preeclampsia. 

What should I do about cramping and contractions after sex?

After orgasm, your body sends a rush of blood to your uterus, which can cause those uncomfortable cramps in your groin. Don’t force yourself to power through them.

Instead, give yourself a chance to recover with a little R&R until the discomfort passes. Some women also feel relief more quickly after a warm bath or a nap.

If the cramps and contractions keep building and getting worse rather than subsiding, check in with your doctor right away to make sure your symptoms aren’t a sign of something serious.

Is there anything I can do to prevent cramping and contractions after sex?

If orgasm leads to cramps and contractions that are too much to bear, skip the main event. You may find foreplay without the climax is just as much fun, especially if it doesn’t leave you in recovery mode afterwards.

Are cramping or contractions after sex more common in early or late pregnancy?

Cramping and contractions can happen after sex at any time during your pregnancy, but they tend to feel even more uncomfortable as your uterus expands in the second and third trimesters.

Early on in your pregnancy, mild cramping after sex can be associated with implantation, which is the fertilized egg attaching to the wall of your uterus.

Severe one-sided cramping, with vaginal bleeding and dizziness, can be an indication of an ectopic pregnancy.

Cramping with heavy bleeding, a backache and pelvic pressure that feels like the baby pressing down could potentially be a sign of miscarriage during the first half of pregnancy.

During the second and third trimesters, cramping after sex can feel more uncomfortable as your uterus swells and puts pressure on bones, muscles and ligaments in your abdomen.

Cramping with lower belly pain, a symptom known as round ligament pain, can start in the 14th week and get more severe as your pregnancy progresses. Braxton Hicks contractions, which is your body’s way of preparing for birth during the third trimester, can make cramps after sex a double whammy.  

As always, make sure to let your doctor know if your cramps are occurring with more troubling symptoms, but don’t give up on sex quite yet. Cuddling and romance are more important than ever now, even if you’re not physically up for orgasm.

Can cramping or contractions after sex induce labor?

As labor approaches, there’s no avoiding the fact that cramps and contractions will become stronger. Your uterus is stretched to the max, your bones and ligaments are shifting around to make room for the baby’s delivery, and it’s likely that your body and mind are prepping for the big event.

If you’re still enjoying sex, high five and keep it up — with your doctor’s permission. It’s unlikely that orgasm will actually induce labor, but with so many physical changes causing discomfort to your groin area, you might choose to dial back a little.

Just remember that cramps and mild contractions after sex and orgasm are usually nothing to be concerned about and not a reason to stop having sex.

But to put your mind at ease, talk to your doctor about it to get the reassurance you need that all is well with you and your baby.

When should I call the doctor about cramping after sex?

Cramps after sex are fairly normal at all stages of pregnancy, even if you never experienced cramps after sex before.

But occasionally they could indicate something is wrong. Call your doctor right away if you experience cramps combined with any of these other symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Heavy spotting or bleeding, especially bleeding that doesn’t subside
  • Painful headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • More than four contractions in one hour and cramps that are painful enough to make you double over, as these may be signs of labor

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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