Pelvic rest involves a person not putting anything in their vagina for a certain period. Abstaining from inserting objects into the vagina can help to avoid medical complications during pregnancy.

Pelvic rest refers to when a person stops inserting anything in their vagina for some time. This may include period products such as tampons, or any sexual activity that involves inserting something into the vagina.

Pelvic rest may also include refraining from activities that strain the pelvic region, such as heavy lifting or certain exercises.

A doctor may recommend pelvic rest to a person due to possible medical complications from pregnancy or if they are at a higher risk of medical complications that affect the pelvis and vagina.

In this article, we will explore the instances when a doctor may recommend pelvic rest, how pelvic rest impacts pregnancy, and when a person may need to contact a doctor.

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A health professional may recommend pelvic rest to a person who may be at higher risk of certain medical conditions or to prevent further complications from occurring. Some examples include:

Full placenta previa

Full placenta previa occurs when the placenta completely covers the internal opening of the cervix that leads to the uterus. Full placenta previa is a major risk factor for postpartum hemorrhage, which is heavy bleeding after birth.

A doctor may recommend pelvic rest for a person with full placenta previa, as inserting something in the vagina or sexual intercourse may provoke bleeding and may damage the placenta. A person with full placenta previa will typically require a cesarean section delivery.


A hernia occurs when a part of the inner body pushes through a weakened portion of the muscle or tissue and bulges out.

Different types of hernia exist. Some of the most common include:

With inguinal hernias, a bulge may be present in the groin area, and symptoms can worsen if a person is doing strenuous exercise or lifting. As such, a doctor may recommend pelvic rest to prevent symptoms from worsening.

Cervical insufficiency, or cervical incompetence, occurs when the cervix is unable to retain a fetus. This is often due to a functional or structural problems, such as a short cervix. Cervical insufficiency is a risk factor for late miscarriage.

Symptoms of cervical insufficiency may include:

  • cramping
  • backache
  • pressure in the pelvis area
  • discharge from the vaginal, which increases in volume

In some cases, a doctor may recommend activity restriction for a person with cervical complications. This may include restricting activities that can put pressure on the pelvis, including sexual intercourse or vigorous exercise.

However, there is currently not enough clinical data to illustrate the effectiveness of pelvic rest in the treatment of cervical complications.

Higher risk for preterm labor

A doctor may recommend pelvic rest to a person with a higher risk for preterm labor. This term refers to when a person gives birth before the 37th week of pregnancy. Preterm labor may cause complications to both the birthgiver and the baby, including:

  • cardiovascular issues
  • neurodevelopmental issues in the baby
  • respiratory issues in the baby

While current guidelines do not recommend pelvic rest to prevent preterm labor, a medical professional may still consider this intervention.

Pelvic rest is different from bed rest. Bed rest normally restricts movement to just 1–2 hours per day, specifically to use the bathroom and bathing.

Pelvic rest only involves limiting the insertion of anything in the vagina. Therefore, it is likely to have minimal impact on a pregnancy. A person on pelvic rest will still be able to carry out daily activities and light exercise.

While this may impact a person’s sex life, a person may still be able to partake in non-penetrative sexual activities. A person should seek medical advice if unsure if an activity is likely to impact their pelvic rest recommendation.

A person on pelvic rest should seek medical attention if they experience symptoms such as:

  • sudden and heavy bleeding from their vagina
  • severe pain in their pelvic region
  • abnormal vaginal discharge
  • premature contractions

A person should also notify their doctor if they start inserting anything into their vagina or are partaking in penetrative sex.

Pelvic rest involves not inserting anything into the vagina. A doctor may recommend this to a pregnant person with risk factors for complications or someone who has other medical complications in the pelvis region.

Conditions that may require pelvic rest include full placenta previa, hernias, cervical insufficiency, and pregnancies that have a higher risk for preterm labor. However, there is not much evidence to support the benefits of pelvic rest.

Pelvic rest should have minimal impact on a pregnancy. It is advisable for a person contact their doctor if they experience unusual discharge, bleeding, or pain in their pelvis region or premature contractions.