A new study debunks the notion that having sex in the final weeks of pregnancy makes labor start sooner.
Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center studied 93 women in their final three weeks of pregnancy. When all was said and done, those who were sexually active had carried their babies an average of 39.9 weeks. Women who abstained, for whatever reason, deliver at 39.3 weeks on average.
"Patients may continue to hear the 'old wives' tale' that intercourse will hasten labor, but according to this data, they should not hear it from the medical community," said obstetrician Jonathan Schaffir.
The results are detailed in June issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The study involved asking the women how often they had sex during the final weeks, as well as examinations to determine whether sex had any "ripening" effect on the cervix. None was found.
There's a caveat in the results, however.
Women who have abdominal discomfort or pelvic pressure—possible signs of earlier delivery—might be disinclined to have sex, Schaffir said, whereas those who feel fine might be more likely to engage in intercourse.