Can having sex induce labour?
We've all asked the age old question, "can sex induce labour?" Is it really a myth or reality? This new study delves into that widely regarded belief and answers our questions. Also, read more to find out what can help induce labour naturally.
Many women have long believed that sex can induce labour, and scientists have proposed plausible biological explanations for why this belief might have merit. So is it true — can sex induce labour?
Can sex induce labour?
Firstly, semen contains a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin, which is actually used in the synthetic form to induce labour medically. Breast stimulation in foreplay is also thought to hasten labour and orgasm can trigger uterine contractions, also believed to mimic labour contractions.
However, in a recent study done in Malaysia and published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it was found that there were no significant differences in the timing of delivery between women who had sex near term and those who didn’t.
This means that for this study, sex seemingly did nothing to induce labour for these women. Unfortunately, the question of having sex induce labour was merely just a myth and not reality!
More than 1,100 women, all of whom were 35 to 38 weeks pregnant were invited to participate in the study. These women also had not had sex in the previous six weeks.
The women were divided into two groups. The first group of women were advised by a physician to have sex frequently as a means of safely expediting labour (in other words help make sex induce labour). While the second group were told that having sex was safe during the duration of their pregnancy, but that its effects on [inducing] labour were unknown.
The researchers then tracked the women to determine how long their pregnancies lasted and whether they required any medical intervention to start labour.
More sex all around
What they found was that about 85 percent of the women in the first group and 80 percent of women in the second group had sex.
The women in the first group though had sex more frequently for the remaining duration of their pregnancies – three times versus two.
But, here’s the kicker, the rates of medically induced labour were similar in both groups: 22 per cent of those advised to have sex and 20.8 per cent of the other group, a negligible difference that is probably driven by chance than anything else.
Jonathan Schaffir, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine says, “Even though this study did not show any increase in the rate of labour or a decrease in the rate of induction, it helped to cement the idea that having sex is probably safe if you want it.”
Natural ways to induce labour…maybe
Even though, sex might not be able to induce labour, there are other natural ways that we’ve heard of that could help that little bun in your oven come out earlier (should you wish).
These suggestions are by no means a surefire way for you to induce labour but there have been research to suggest that they can help. Note that you should consult your doctor or midwife before trying these out, just in case.
- Evening primrose oil
- Eating spicy food
- Nipple stimulation
Here are some related articles on pregnancy: