Nine months pregnant and ready to meet your baby? You might be willing to try just about anything. But does sex induce labor? Here’s what you need to know.
There are no guarantees when it comes to natural ways to induce labor, and your little one will come when they’re good and ready.
But if you’ve been on the hunt for things that might speed things up, a good old romp in the hay is one of the tips that crops up a lot.
And when you break down the science behind the old-wives’-tale, it seems like there’s some method to the madness.
So does sex induce labor?
Mama, if your 37th week is already behind you and you’re ready to get your little one out of there, it’s worth a try.
In this article: 📝
- What starts labor?
- Why does sex induce labor?
- How can I make myself go into labor during sex?
- Does having an orgasm induce labor?
- Does sex really induce labor?
- What week will sex induce labor?
What starts labor?
We’re still not exactly sure what gets the labor ball rolling — a lot more babies would be born on their due date if we were.
Since only about 4% of babies make their grand entrance when they’re supposed to, there’s a lot we can’t say for sure.
What is certain is that labor, and the days after you give birth, are a hormonal rollercoaster.
Even before you feel your first contractions, hormone fireworks are going off inside your body to prepare it for the awesome thing it’s about to do.
They loosen your tendons, help you cope with the pain, give you stamina, and help you bond with your little one when they’re finally in your arms.
Your all-star team is:
- Oxytocin, which is related to pleasure and bonding
- Endorphins, which are also related to enjoyment
- Epinephrine, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response — or excitement, if you want to put a positive spin on things
- Prostaglandins, which is a hormone-like substance that prepares your cervix for labor and helps stimulate contractions
When the balance of these chemicals in your body is right, labor begins.
Why does sex induce labor?
Your body is amazing and it produces all these hormones by itself when it’s ready.
So how does sex induce labor?
Well, if those hormonal feelings of excitement, pleasure, and closeness sound familiar, it’s because your body produces an extra dose of all these during sex — whether you get intimate with a partner or masturbate.
When it comes to using sex to induce labor, oxytocin dilates your blood vessels and encourages your uterus to contract.
Then, prostaglandins encourage your cervix to soften.
Your body makes prostaglandins by itself during sex.
And if we’re talking penis-in-vagina sex, semen has an extremely high concentration of prostaglandins too.
Oxytocin and prostaglandins play such a big role in getting labor started that their synthetic forms are the go-to if you need to have labor induced medically.
Pitocin (which you might be given over an IV during induction or after birth to help your uterus contract down) is essentially synthetic oxytocin.
Misoprostol and dinoprostone are synthetic prostaglandins used as tablets or pessaries (devices inserted inside you to support your vaginal tissue) to encourage your cervix to open.
How can I make myself go into labor during sex?
Wondering what sex position induces labor?
Two things might increase your chances of [meeting your baby tonight].
- Deep penetration, so the prostaglandins in the semen are right by your cervix.
- Nipple stimulation, which encourages your body to produce oxytocin
Lots of cuddling and a dark room may help with this one too.
Just try to avoid lying on your back at any point.
Not only is the missionary position logistically difficult with a full-term baby bump in the way, but it’s also not great for your blood pressure and can leave you feeling sick and dizzy.
Does having an orgasm induce labor?
If the hormones alone don’t get things going, the muscle contractions in your uterus and vagina that happen when you orgasm might help.
These contractions aren’t the same as the long, strong contractions that move your baby down, but there’s a chance that they might show your body what it’s supposed to be doing.
This also means you can masturbate to induce labor if you just can’t find a position that works.
Many women experience some hardening of the uterus or Braxton hicks contractions after sex.
But if your contractions are on a regular schedule and they don’t ease up when you change position, it might finally be true labor.
Does sex really induce labor?
Unfortunately, as logical as it sounds on paper and as many stories as you might have heard from friends and family (whether you asked for them or not!), the science doesn’t show that sex is a reliable way of inducing labor.
Some studies have shown that babies are born at a younger gestational age if their mother had sex at the end of her pregnancy.
They may have been born at 39 weeks and 5 days, rather than at 40 + 1, for example.
Others have shown that there’s no significant difference.
What we do know is that by full term, people are more than ready to meet their babies.
This study from Malaysia showed that parents who were told that sex induces labor had a lot more sex than couples who hadn’t heard this story.
Check in with your doctor to see if there’s any reason not to have sex at this time.
If you get the all-clear, add sex to the list of other things that seem like they might work and generally won’t hurt.
Other things on file?
It sounds like quite the evening!
What week will sex induce labor?
You probably can’t use sex to induce labor unless your little one is ready to come and say hi.
This is why it’s safe to have sex during most pregnancies unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
At the same time, as uncomfortable as the third trimester can be, you don’t really want your baby to come early.
Up to the very end of pregnancy, your baby is still putting on weight, and their lungs are busy developing.
So it’s best to give them the time they need in there.
But if you’re already at term or overdue, you need something to pass the time!
And the closer you are to your due date, the more likely that you’re in early labor without realizing it.
Having sex might turn those twinges into contractions and get things going.