There are countless myths surrounding pregnancy. One popular belief is that having sexual intercourse near the expected birth date could induce labour. Well, a new study shows that this may in fact be true!
Malaysian researchers studied 200 healthy, married women with uncomplicated pregnancies. The women were asked to keep a journal of their sexual activity beginning at week 36 of pregnancy. Since birth usually occurs around week 40, the doctors induced labour after the 41st week of pregnancy. None of the women presented with contraindications for having late-pregnancy sexual relations. The study found that 58% of the women had intercourse an average of four times in late pregnancy. Overall, nearly 12.5% of the women had to be induced.
The results show that about 7% of sexually active women had not delivered by the 41st week, compared to nearly 30% of abstinent women. After eliminating potentially confounding factors, the researchers estimated that women who have sexual intercourse in the last weeks of their pregnancy are 90% more likely to deliver by the 41st week and almost 100% less likely to need to be induced, compared to abstinent women. Interestingly, the team also noted that frequency of sexual intercourse could have an impact on pregnancy length, since women who had intercourse more than once a week seemed more likely to give birth after 41 weeks and to required labour induction.
Naturally, these results apply only to women with uncomplicated pregnancies. In some high-risk pregnancies, sexual intercourse in the last few weeks may be contraindicated because the effects of orgasm can mimic those of oxytocin, the hormone that induces uterine contractions during labour. When in doubt, ladies, don’t hesitate to discuss the matter with your physician.