When you’re approaching the end of your pregnancy, you’ll probably start to look forward to having your baby in your arms. Some parents want to try finding ways to encourage labor to begin. In some cases, your doctor also might suggest inducing labor, assuming that it would be better for you and your baby.
Despite the fact that only around 2% of women end up having a post-term pregnancy, there are many natural methods that people swear by that can help bring on labor. One of the most popularly suggested methods is to have sex. So, how often should you have sex when trying to induce labor? Does it even work, and how can you maximize your chances of it helping you if it does?
Can Sex Bring on Labor?
The short answer is that there is no conclusive scientific evidence to prove whether or not sex can increase the likelihood of spontaneous labor. There have been only a few studies on the subject, and they have returned contradicting evidence. So according to the known facts, at least, the only number of times you really need to have sex to make labor possible is once – the time that you conceived.
A small-scale study conducted in 2006 observed low-risk women in their 41st week of pregnancy. It showed a link between having sex and increased rates of spontaneous labor. However, when a similar study was conducted in 2009, the results showed that women who reported having sex were actually less likely to go into labor before their due date.
That having been said, there is still much research to be done to show one way or the other if sex actually does encourage labor. There are some indications that having sex when you are at full term can potentially reduce the likelihood of the pregnancy carrying on to the 42nd week. Scientists have a few ideas about how sex might work to induce labor.
A man’s sperm is the most concentrated source of naturally occurring prostaglandins. Doctors use a synthetic version of these hormone-like fatty acids in the medicines they use to induce labor in a hospital. They encourage the ripening of the cervix, making it dilate and thin, as well as being an important part of enabling contractions. So exposing the female reproductive system to sperm might help promote these changes.
Orgasms have been shown to increase uterine activity in pregnant women. The contractions that occur after an orgasm can carry on for up to 30 minutes. Potentially, they could help to speed up the onset of labor by stimulating further contractions.
Sometimes called the love hormone, this chemical is released by the body during sex, as well as during labor. Nipple stimulation, whether during sex or due to using a breast pump, is one of the causes for it to be released. Doctors again use a form of oxytocin as part of the medications used to induce labor. So, doing something that naturally adds it to your bloodstream may well help to induce labor.
How to Improve Your Chances (If It Does Work)
The important thing to aim for is that you both achieve orgasm. Additionally, your partner needs to finish while still inside you. This will ensure both that you get all the prostaglandins from his sperm, and that you have the contractions that come during and after orgasm.
Woman on top is a good choice of position, as it will avoid putting pressure on your stomach. Doggy style and spooning are two other enjoyable options. You should avoid missionary, as lying on your back for too long risks cutting off the blood flow to your lower body.
Can Sex Bring on Early Labor?
From the limited data currently available, it appears that sex won’t have any effect on your chances of having labor before you reach your full term. It only makes a potential difference when the conditions are already favorable for labor to begin.
In other words, having sex shouldn’t affect your pregnancy until you’re in your 41st week. But there are some exceptions to this.
Reasons to Avoid Having Sex During Pregnancy
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, including those on the following list, then your doctor or Ob-Gyn might suggest that you shouldn’t have sex:
- If you’re pregnant with twins, triplets, or more.
- If you have had previous miscarriages, or are at risk of one currently.
- If you are at risk of preterm labor.
- If your amniotic sac has ruptured or is leaking.
- If you’re experiencing cramping, vaginal bleeding, or discharge for unknown reasons.
- If your cervix has opened prematurely.
- If you have placenta previa.
- If your partner has tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection.
There’s No Harm in Trying
As long as you have a low-risk pregnancy, and your healthcare provider has given you the all clear, then there’s no reason to not have sex. If you’re at full term, it is possible that it could help to induce labor. Although science hasn’t confirmed this yet, there are a number of reasons why it could help induce labor.
Make sure that both you and your partner orgasm, and that your partner finishes inside your vagina, so that you get all the potential benefits. The prostaglandins in his sperm, the contractions of during and after your orgasm, and the hormones released thanks to the sex itself, could all help to start the process.
How often should you have sex to induce labor? There’s no specific answer to give to that question because scientists and doctors don’t yet agree on whether or not it will even make a difference.
But considering the potential benefits, many healthcare providers are happy to suggest that you give it a try. Have sex as many times as feels natural, and don’t overexert yourself trying to speed things up in this way. Only around 2% of women end up carrying on into a post-term pregnancy longer than 42 weeks. If there is a troubling delay, there are more effective ways to induce labor.