Sex Doesn’t Jump Start Labor, So Everyone Can Breathe A Sigh Of Relief

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At one time or another, every pregnant couple has probably heard some speculation that sex can help induce labor. A new study from Malaysia proves that this might just be a big, fat wives tale. I couldn’t be happier.

The test attempted to randomize the experience of the subjects. Instead of simply having a group of pregnant women that was told to have sex and a group that wasn’t, researchers took a different approach. They invited 1100 women who were 35 to 38 weeks pregnant to participate. Half of the women were advised by a physician to “have sex frequently,” while the other half were told that “sex was safe during pregnancy but its effects on labor were unknown.”

Researchers tracked the women to see if there were any marked differences in how long their pregnancies lasted and whether they needed inductions to start labor. The results? The study showed no increase in the rate of labor or decrease in the rate of induction for those who were told to “have sex frequently.” 22 percent of those advised to have sex and 20.8 percent of the other group had inductions. Pregnancy also lasted an average of 39 weeks for both groups.

Well, I’m glad my husband and I don’t have to freak out about doing harm to the baby while attempting to have some semblance of a regular sex life throughout our pregnancy. We’ve spent the first trimester of both of our pregnancies very apprehensive about how sexually active we should be. In one of our birthing classes, our doula perpetuated the myth that sex could induce labor. She told us that semen contains prostaglandin, which happens to be something that is used in synthetic form to induce labor. I guess the synthetic form does a better job than the one found in nature.

Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine told Reuters Health, “Even though this study did not show any increase in the rate of labor or a decrease in the rate of induction, it helped to cement the idea that having sex is probably safe if you want it.”

Also, I’m hoping this information will stop our midwife from recommending that my husband play with my nipples when I’m in labor. I mean really – no thanks.

(photo: Smit/