But can sex induce labor in full-term women? And are there risks for having sex in the last few weeks of pregnancy? While studies on the topic are still limited, sexy time could be your ticket to labor and delivery. Sex might seem the obvious solution to speeding along labor: Contractions of the uterus are part and parcel of having an orgasm, and they can be quite powerful and last up to half an hour. Sperm contains prostaglandins, or fatty acids that act like hormones, which are also produced by your uterus to thin and dilate the cervix and jump-start contractions in preparation for delivery. In fact, medications used by doctors to induce labor like misoprostol contain a synthetic version of prostaglandins that have been shown to help speed along labor.
Every year, one in five labours are medically induced in the UK, and induction is offered to all women who don't go into labour naturally by 42 weeks. Induction is not without its risks and discomfort, and it is understandable that women may look to some alternate method of inducing labour. One American study reported that half of women who reach their due dates attempt to initiate labour through a variety of non-medical techniques. There is a proliferation of DIY methods to induce labour that can be found online, and one of the most common recommendations is to have sex. But does sex initiate labour? There are biologically plausible reasons why having sex at term may help to speed the arrival of a baby.
NEW YORK - Despite a widespread belief that sex during the later stages of pregnancy can jumpstart labor, a new study from Malaysia found no differences in the timing of delivery between women who had sex near term and those who abstained. Tan Peng Chiong, an obstetrics and gynecology professor at the University of Malaya, and one of the authors of the study. Tan said that many women believe intercourse can induce labor, and scientists have proposed plausible biological explanations for why it might help.
This video is part of our series of videos all about the evidence on different natural induction methods. Having sex is commonly suggested to people as a way to get labor going at the end of pregnancy. But is it evidence-based?