(HealthDay News) – Coital activity does not expedite labor or reduce the need for labor induction, according to a study published online Nov. 12 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Siti Zawiah Omar, of the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving women at 35 weeks’ gestation and with an uncomplicated singleton pregnancy to examine the effect of coitus on expediting the onset of labor or the need for labor induction. The women were randomly allocated to receive counseling that coitus at term is a safe, natural, and effective way to initiate labor and avoid induction (advise-coitus; 564 women), or receive advice that coitus was safe (control; 573 women).

The researchers found that the intervention-to-delivery interval was similar for the advise-coitus and control groups (3.2±1.4 and 3.3±1.3 weeks, respectively; P=0.417). Gestational age at delivery was similar between the groups (39.4±1.2 and 39.5±1.2 weeks, respectively). There was no significant difference in labor induction rates between the groups (22% and 20.8%, respectively; P=0.666). Among women in the advise-coitus group, coitus was more often reported prior to delivery than in the control group (85.3% vs. 79.9%; P=0.019). The median reported number of coital acts was higher for the advise-coitus group (three vs. two; P=0.006). There was no difference in pregnancy or neonatal outcomes between the groups.

“Suggesting coitus during late pregnancy to expedite labor is not effective in achieving an earlier onset of labor or in reducing the rate of labor induction,” the authors write.

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