Sex is a normal part of a healthy life. Still, many people don’t feel comfortable talking about it. When it comes to general female health and wellness, though, we highly suggest open communication with a trusted healthcare provider, especially when there are questions or concerns about sex. For example, are there times when sex should be avoided? There are, and we want you to know them.
WHEN YOU HAVE AN INFECTION
Symptoms of a vaginal or pelvic infection include pelvic pain, vaginal burning or itching, and foul-smelling discharge. If you experience these symptoms, you need to visit your gynecologist for appropriate care. An untreated infection can create unnecessary pain for you and possibly also your partner if your infection is contagious. Treatment for vaginal and pelvic infections usually involves oral or topical antibiotics.
BEFORE A PAP SMEAR
The technology used to process Pap smears has advanced over the years but the technique still involves the microscopic examination of individual cells taken from the cervix. When a woman has sex before her test, there will be semen on her cervix. This will mix with her cells and throw off the analysis. The decreased sensitivity of the test could lead to inaccurate findings.
WHEN THERE IS UNEXPLAINED VAGINAL PAIN OR BLEEDING
Most women have occasional spotting or moments of pain when ovulating. Persistent pain or bleeding, however, could indicate a cervical abnormality or other problem. Until a pelvic examination can be performed, intercourse should be avoided.
WHAT ABOUT PREGNANCY?
Many women ask if they can safely have sex when they’re pregnant. Most of the time, the answer is yes. The exception is if there is some type of pregnancy complication. Pregnant women who are experiencing unexplained bleeding or pain should abstain from sex. More than that, they need to see their obstetrician. Pregnancy complications such as preterm labor and placenta previa may be exacerbated by sexual intercourse, so women with either condition will likely be warned to avoid sex.
WHEN TO HAVE POSTPARTUM SEX
You might think most women would have zero interest in sex after giving birth, but this isn’t the case in every situation. Women need to heed their doctor’s advice to hold off on sex until their six-week postpartum follow-up. This visit confirms that tissues are healing properly after a cesarean section or vaginal delivery. Having sex before tissues have healed creates an opportunity not only for pain but also for infection.