Sexual intercourse at term and onset of labor

Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Jun;107(6):1310-4. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000220507.91904.4a.


Objective: To determine whether sexual intercourse at term hastens the onset of labor and to observe its effect on cervical status.

Methods: Women with low-risk pregnancies at term were asked at each of their term prenatal visits whether they had engaged in penile-vaginal intercourse during the previous week. Delivery outcomes were compared between those women who were sexually active at term and those who were not. A Bishop score was assigned to each cervical examination at term, and the weekly results of the cervical examination were compared between women who were sexually active in the previous week and those who were not.

Results: Forty-seven (50.5%) of 93 women reported having had sexual intercourse at term. The gestational age at delivery of those women who were sexually active at term was greater than those who were not (39.9 weeks versus 39.3 weeks; P = .001). There was no difference in Bishop score between women who had sex in the previous week and those who had not. After adjusting for the effect of time, those who were sexually active the previous week had Bishop scores that were, on average, lower by 0.26 (95% confidence interval -1.26 to 0.74, P = .61) compared with those who abstained.

Conclusion: Sexual intercourse at term is not associated with ripening of the cervix and does not hasten labor.

Level of evidence: II-3.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Ripening*
  • Coitus
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*