Does Having Sex Induce Labor?

There’s no scientific proof that having sex induces labor. However, orgasms (and masturbation) can cause muscle contractions in your uterus and vagina that may help to speed up labor if you’re full-term and past the due date.

Also, orgasms release oxytocin which is similar to the synthetic hormone Pitocin that doctors use to induce labor in hospitals.

What are the risks?

Some people try just about anything to induce labor at the end of their pregnancy. There are stories of eating spicy foods, dancing, and even drinking a shot of castor oil to bring on contractions. But one of the most popular methods is having sex.

This is because sex and orgasm can trigger the release of oxytocin and prostaglandins, which are hormones that encourage the uterus to contract and soften the cervix. But despite these effects, having sex doesn’t always start labor. This is because if your body isn’t ready to deliver, no amount of artificial stimulation will help.

There is some evidence that sex can cause labor to begin, but only if you’re full-term or past-term and your cervix is ripe for delivery. That’s why it’s important to follow safe pregnancy sex techniques, like avoiding deep penetration and pacing the orgasm.

Also, nipple stimulation can release oxytocin as well, but you should run it by your doctor before trying it for foreplay or to induce labor. Overstimulation of the nipples can lead to overstimulation of the uterus and overactive contractions, which can be uncomfortable and dangerous for you and your baby. That’s why it’s best to stick with safe sex positions, like cowgirl or reverse cowgirl. They’re both comfortable and may make your orgasms more powerful.

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Is it safe?

Having sex to induce labor has long been a favorite method of at-home pregnancy induction, but there’s actually not much high-quality clinical research supporting it. However, it’s safe to try this method once you’re 39 weeks pregnant and have your provider’s approval.

The theory behind it is that sexual activity triggers your body’s natural production of prostaglandins, which stimulate uterine contractions and help ripen the cervix for delivery. This is the same reason why doctors use synthetic prostaglandins (such as Pitocin) to induce labor in hospital settings.

But while sex can indeed trigger orgasms that can bring on contractions, that’s not enough to induce labor by itself. You need to have full-on sex, with vaginal penetration, to get the most benefit. And even then, it won’t necessarily bring on labor, as the contractions you feel from sex are likely Braxton-Hicks, or false labor, which is similar to a period.

You can also try other at-home methods to kickstart your labor, such as long walks or spicy foods. But it’s best not to attempt any at-home methods of inducing labor unless your water has already broken and you’re overdue. Trying to induce early can be risky for both mother and baby, so you should only attempt to go into labor naturally when your doctor tells you it’s time.

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Is it effective?

Having sex to induce labor sounds good on paper, but there’s not enough clinical research to prove it works. Anecdotally, though, it can help get things started. The key is reaching orgasm. The hormones that are released during sex can cause muscle contractions in your uterus and vagina, which can trigger labor. Those contractions aren’t the same as the long, strong contractions you’ll have to move your baby down, but they can be a sign of true labor.

In addition, the semen in sex contains a lot of prostaglandins, which can also ripen your cervix and start labor. In fact, doctors use synthetic versions of these compounds (like Pitocin) to medically induce labor.

That said, sex isn’t likely to kickstart labor for someone who isn’t close to their due date. It may, however, be able to encourage early labor in women who are already overdue.

If you’re thinking about trying this method, talk to your doctor or midwife first. They’ll let you know if it’s safe for you to do so, and can provide some tips to make it more effective. For example, a doctor might recommend that you avoid any positions that could bruise or inflame your cervix, such as digital penetration. Instead, aim for comfortable, orgasm-inducing positions. Orgasms that lead to climax are the most likely to start labor.

What if it doesn’t work?

It’s understandable why some women want to try anything they can think of to kickstart labor. After nine months of aches, pains and discomfort, most moms-to-be are eager to meet their baby and put pregnancy behind them. Unfortunately, when you’re past your due date, there’s little scientific evidence that DIY methods like sex or stimulating the nipples will help you go into labour.

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The theory behind why sex might induce labor is that orgasm increases the release of oxytocin, which is a natural contraction-triggering hormone. This, in turn, stimulates the womb (uterus) to start working. Some studies have also found that sex can help soften, or ripen, the neck of the womb (cervix) in preparation for childbirth. And of course, semen contains a lot of prostaglandins, chemicals that may encourage the uterus to work harder.

However, there is no research to show that any particular sex position or type of orgasm has any more effect than another. Plus, if you’re overdue and in the last trimester, sex is probably the last thing on your mind. Instead, you can try other ways to get oxytocin going, such as exercise or nipple stimulation (which actually has some research backing it up as a safe labor induction method for low-risk pregnancies). If you have any concerns about using DIY methods to bring on your labour, talk to your healthcare provider.

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