Sci, like everyone else around here, isn't immune to the sands of time. She's getting older, along with all of her friends, who are pairing up and settling down. This means two things:
1) Sci has been a bridesmaid SIX TIMES and counting so far. The tales she could tell...
2) Sci friends are having BABIES. LOTS AND LOTS OF BABIES. 400 BABIES!
(Sci is often accused of have GRATUITOUS AMOUNTS OF ENERGY. Also, she has to wonder if these guys had ever tried the energy gel called "Chocolate Outrage". It may or may not be my favorite)
And of course with all these babies comes lots of information about babies and pregnancy. Sci has now learned about conception timing, morning sickness, the things being pregnant does to your bladder, the things having babies does to your sleep, the many amazing colors babies can produce substances in, etc, etc. And she heard one "fact" that made her ears perk up. It was this one:
Having sex and achieving orgasm when you're due can help induce labor.
And her first thought was...well...can it?
I mean, from the outset, it might seem to make some kind of sense. Birth involves movement of the vaginal walls, so maybe intentionally contracting the walls (via orgasm) would "prime" them somehow. Or maybe the penis shoving against the cervix would cause it to dilate a little. Uterine activity happens during sex, maybe that starts moving things along. Breast stimulation can stimulate labor, so maybe foreplay does it. Frequency of sexy time (though not right at term) is correlated with expedited onset of labor. Or maybe it just makes the woman relax. Or something. On the other hand, previous studies (from this group) took women at term and told them to have more sex. They did. Labor wasn't affected.
And if sex at term affected natural labor induction, this could be a good thing. Artificial induction of labor often results in longer and more difficult labor and more C-sections. So it might be best to get the natural labor going in more cases.
So does it or doesn't it?
So for this study, the authors surveyed a whole bunch of women who were at term (over 200 total), and scheduled for a non-urgent labor induction. These women were at term, but the baby wasn't here yet, and so they would be scheduled for induction in the next week. They then had them keep "coital and orgasm diaries". They were to record how often they had sex and whether they had orgasms (there were controls for age, state of pregnancy, and number of previous children). The women were divided into groups that were or were not having sex at the point of study recruitment. They were then placed in two groups, a group that was advised to have sex, and a group that wasn't.
And then everyone had babies, by either labor induction or natural induction, and they checked out the data.
And the results are in a GIANT TABLE. Ick. And it's one that Sci cannot graph for you. She's a little upset about this. But she'll recover.
Anyway, there was a significant increase in the amount of sex had by the group that was being advised to have sex. They went forth and f***ed as advised. And there was a significant result for sex...but it wasn't the one you'd expect.
Having sex DECREASED the induction of spontaneous labor. The time from recruitment to birth was longer in women who were having sex. Similar for women who reported orgasm. Keep in mind though, it wasn't significant. It was p=0.052, which technically counts as a trend. Women who had sex did have babies with a higher Apgar score in the first five minutes (a healthier appearance at birth), but this doesn't really signify, as all babies that were born were healthy.
So what does this mean? Well, it may mean nothing. One study found that sex increased the odds of labor (Tan, 2006). Another study (Schiffir, 2006) found no effect. This one finds that sex decreases the odds of labor. Put it all together and it looks like one big pile of nothin'.
So the question now is where to go from here. The authors did note that their women only had a week. Maybe sex in the last trimester helps. Maybe two weeks? Maybe more frequently? Maybe just at the right time? Who knows, really. This is all self report stuff, so maybe keeping an eye on them while they did it might help.
And for all you who chime in in the comments stating "WELL IT WORKED FOR ME AND U SUCK", let's all pause. Anecdotes aren't data. And for 43 of the women who orgasmed, and 49 of the women who had sex, it worked for them, too. So you might just be lucky. And there's nothing wrong with gettin' lucky, amirite?
Tan PC, Yow CM, & Omar SZ (2009). Coitus and orgasm at term: effect on spontaneous labour and pregnancy outcome. Singapore medical journal, 50 (11), 1062-7 PMID: 19960160