The connection between semen and labor is real, though not foolproof. Sexual intercourse that results in the deposit of semen inside a pregnant female can be used as a natural method of labor induction. This works — sometimes — because semen contains prostaglandins, which are hormones that help prepare a woman’s cervix for labor and childbirth. Doctors sometimes apply gel that contains these hormones to a woman’s cervix in the hopes of encouraging her body to begin labor, but some women also decide to take matters into their own hands by having sexual intercourse. Some doctors even recommend this tactic, which sometimes works but sometimes only provides a distraction for a woman who is impatiently awaiting her baby.
People spread many myths about things that supposedly can stimulate labor. The connection between semen and labor, however, is no myth. This method of labor stimulation actually has some chance of working, because semen contains the same hormones doctors often use to help prepare a woman’s body for childbirth. These prostaglandins work by softening the cervix and making it thinner. Exposure to these hormones alone is sometimes enough to stimulate labor.
When a woman’s cervix is exposed to prostaglandins and begins to soften and thin, the result is often contractions that start labor and stimulate the process necessary for delivery of a baby. In some cases, the contractions the hormones cause are stronger than those that occur with labor that starts on its own, and they may come more regularly, as well. This means a woman may face more discomfort as a result. The good news about semen and labor, however, is that abnormally strong contractions are less likely to occur when a woman is exposed to the prostaglandins in semen than when exposed to those in a prepared gel.
While the connection between semen and labor can translate into natural labor induction for some women, it is not a reliable method of stimulating labor. Some women may try this method multiple times and not get any closer to labor. In such a case, the expectant mother's body may not be ready for labor, and she may just have to wait for it to happen on its own. When it is imperative for a woman to deliver her child sooner rather than later, doctors may recommend prostaglandin gel to prepare the cervix and a medication called pitocin, which is delivered through a woman’s veins and is used to stimulate contractions.