Natural Induction Methods: Sex

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Sex for the Induction of Labor

Why it may work:

It is not the intercourse that causes contractions, but the hormones that help with labor induction.  Semen has the highest levels of naturally occurring prostaglandins.  Prostaglandin is the same hormone we use to ripen the cervix for a medical induction.  When the semen sits against the cervix and helps it to ripen.  If this helps induce labor, it may be helpful to lie down after sex to allow the semen to sit against the cervix longer.  The release of oxytocin during an orgasm may also play a role.

What the research says: 

Researches have not studied whether intercourse induces labor extensively, and the current research, has been inconclusive.  There is a small amount of research that shows if a woman has more sex at term, she is more likely to begin labor before 41 weeks.


There is no research discussing how much or how often women should have intercourse to induce labor.  If intercourse is not possible, semen can be collected in a condom, menstrual cup, or diaphragm and place it against the woman’s cervix.  This may serve the same purpose as intercourse.

Possible Benefits:

The prostaglandins in the semen and the oxytocin during orgasm may be enough to either soften the cervix or induce labor, without having to go into the hospital.


You may not want to try intercourse if you are having more than normal pain in the hip or groin.  This may be from something like sciatic nerve problems or pubic symphysis dysfunction.  In addition, avoid sex if your water breaks, or your partner has an STD.  Sex does not appear to affect preterm labor so is safe throughout pregnancy.

What the Doula can do when her client is choosing sex as an induction method:

-Provide your client with as accurate information as possible.

-Help the your client work through the pros and cons of this method.

-Encourage your client to take care of herself, as this helps the body work better regardless of what else the mom is doing.

-Provide ways to help decrease stress and anxiety as this inhibits labor and is often a part of women’s lives when they are feeling pressured (from themselves or a care provider) to birth their baby soon.

-Continue to remind them of the different ways their body is preparing to have this baby.

Rebecca Decker over at Evidence Based Birth(registered), has some great info the actual research used here.



Follow Rachel Leavitt:

Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

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