Effect of vaginal intercourse on spontaneous labor at term: a randomized controlled trial



This study aimed at evaluating the effect of vaginal intercourse on spontaneous labor onset at term.


In a randomized controlled trial, patients with singleton, cephalic, term, and low-risk pregnancy were assigned to either vaginal intercourse at least twice a week or abstinence. The following data were assessed: demographics, parity, vaginal coitus frequency before and during pregnancy, Bishop score at 38th weeks, gestational age at delivery, mode of delivery, and days between recruitment and delivery. The primary outcome was spontaneous labor onset.


Of the 123 patient analyzed, 63 were assigned to study group and 60 to control group. Mean interval between study recruitment and delivery was higher in sexually active women (15.05 days ± 0.8 compared with 14.17 days ± 0.8, p = 0.45) as well as the rate of cesarean delivery (14.3 % compared with 10 %, p = 0.58), but the differences were not statistically significant. The rate of spontaneous labor was similar in both groups (84.1 % in vaginal coitus group; 75 % in control group, p = 0.26).


Our results showed that vaginal intercourse does not hasten spontaneous labor onset at term.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Catarina Castro.

Additional information

ClinicalTrials.gov registration number NCT01907698.

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Castro, C., Afonso, M., Carvalho, R. et al. Effect of vaginal intercourse on spontaneous labor at term: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet 290, 1121–1125 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-014-3343-0

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  • Spontaneous labour
  • Vaginal intercourse
  • Delivery
  • Randomized