It has been a popular myth told by doctors and midwives for years; but now a new study from Malaysia suggests that sex during the latter weeks of pregnancy does not induce labour.
The study, led by Dr Tan Peng Chiong, was carried out at the University of Malaya. Dr Chiong has said that the team were disappointed not to find a link between sex and labour. "It would have been nice for couples to have something safe, effective and perhaps even fun that they could use themselves to help go into labour a little easier if they wanted".
No one has ever really been able to explain why sex was said to induce labour. Some experts believed that breast stimulation quickened labour, or that when a woman orgasmed it caused the uterine to contract, inducing contractions. Semen was said to be the cause for sex inducing labour, as it contained 'prostaglandin', which doctors use in its synthetic form to induce labour.
The study in Malaysia involved 1,100 women who were between 35 to 38 weeks pregnant; none of them had been intimate with their partners for the 6 weeks prior to the study. Half of the women were encouraged by physicians to have sex frequently throughout the remaining weeks of their pregnancy.
Researchers then monitored the women. An astonishing 85% of the women who were advised to have sex frequently, did. In the other group, 80% had sex just because, despite being told that the chances of their labour being hastened was low.
The findings were:
- 22% of women who were encouraged to have sex had to have their labour induced
- 20.8% from the other group had to have their labour induced
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