A Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Philips Ekpe, has said that there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that sexual intercourse during the later stages of pregnancy can aid vaginal delivery by inducing labour.
Dr. Ekpe noted that contrary to the widespread assumption by many people that sexual intercourse during the later stages of pregnancy can aid vaginal delivery, there is no scientific evidence to support the notion.
Ekpe, who is a former Secretary-General of the Nigerian Medical Association, told PUNCH HealthWise in an exclusive interview that many women believe sexual intercourse can induce labour because the human sperm contains prostaglandin, a hormone‐like substance, noting that there are myths that prostaglandin ripens the cervix and helps labour to start.
Speaking with our correspondent, Ekpe said, “Some people used to think that because there is a prostaglandin in sperm probably that will help to cause contraction.
“But it has not been proven scientifically. So, it is not really true that having sex towards delivery will aid vaginal delivery.
“Many women are doing that, that it will aid their delivery, but it is not in any medical textbook.”
“It is not recommended that they should have sex so that it will make labour come. No.”
According to him, women can have sex for fun during the last stages of their pregnancy but not because they want to induce labour.
The maternal health expert explained, “Vaginal delivery means that there has to be contractions, the pelvic must be adequate, and the baby has to be lying well.
“Those things are actually done by nature and not by anybody. Women don’t have control over vaginal delivery.
“Our patients do ask us what they need to do to induce labour, but we normally tell them that when it will come, it will come. Nature has made it so”.
Continuing, Ekpe noted, “Even the one that is lying down and not doing anything, when labour comes, and it is obvious she is going to deliver normal, she will deliver normally.”
The gynaecologist urged women to ensure that they register for antenatal early and in good hospitals where there are skilled birth attendants.
In a 2019 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, titled, ‘Sexual Intercourse for Induction of Spontaneous Onset of Labor: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials’, the researchers said sexual intercourse at term does not significantly increase the incidence of spontaneous onset of labour.
The researchers said, “Sexual intercourse during pregnancy is commonly believed to trigger the onset of contractions and, therefore, labour. However, in low-risk pregnancies, there is neither association with preterm birth, premature rupture of membranes, or low birth weight, nor with spontaneous onset of labour at term.
“Sexual intercourse should not be restricted in low-risk term pregnancies.
“Further studies are needed to properly evaluate the impact of orgasm, penetration, condom use, frequency of intercourse and other factors on induction of labour at term.”
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