The Ultimate Pregnant Woman's Question: Is It Safe To Have An Orgasm While In Labor?

by Emily Westbrooks

Yes, orgasm during labor and delivery is a thing, my friends. Sounds a little counterintuitive? While I can't (read: won't) speak for most women, but I think it's safe to assume the majority of us wouldn't consider enjoying an orgasm while dealing with the pain of childbirth to be much of an option. So, is it safe to have an orgasm while in labor? Turns out, more than a few birth experts (and mothers) claim reaching climax while laboring could be an effective form of pain management. There are a few rules every laboring woman should follow, though, so that "hitting that high spot" while you're bringing another human being into the world is a low-risk endeavor.

First things first: any orgasm being discussed during childbirth is not one being reached by penetration and/or intercourse. It should go without saying (but with the state of sex education in this country, one can't be sure) that you shouldn't be putting something inside the vagina when something else is trying to come out of it. And while a 2012 study out of Malaysia found no significant evidence to suggest sexual intercourse can induce labor, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) does recommend nipple stimulation as a means of "natural" labor induction.

Still, sex during pregnancy, even in the third trimester and as you near your due-date, is perfectly safe unless your doctor says otherwise. In fact, according to the APA, "Unless your health care provider advises you otherwise, sex during pregnancy is safe for both you and your baby. The baby is protected by the amniotic fluid in the womb, by your abdomen, and by the mucus plug which seals your cervix and helps guard against infections."

But what about once you're in labor? Well, once your water has broken, and you've shed your mucus plug, intercourse is officially off the table. If your water has broken, you don't want to introduce anything to your vagina that could cause infection, according to the Mayo Clinic, including a penis. Sorry, ladies, but after that point you're on your own on the orgasm front.

While there's little information about the safety of having an orgasm once your water has broken and you are in active labor, there is a host of information about using self-pleasure to moderate and channel the pain of contractions during childbirth. It's a slightly uncommon practice, but it's explained in books like Orgasmic Birth by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro:

"While an orgasmic birth can, for some, induce feelings of intense, ecstatic pleasure, it is ultimately about taking control of one's own body and making the most informed decisions to have a safe, memorable, and joyful birth day."

With a 78 percent five-star rating on Amazon, many reviewers have touted the combination of science and testimonials in the book, saying it encouraged them to embrace childbirth as something that can be enjoyable rather than traumatic.

Vice reported on a woman who used self-stimulation during childbirth and, in the report, the mother "described the sensation as 'taking the edge of' the pain more than sexual gratification." Vice went on to explain the connection between sexual arousal and childbirth with that "love hormone" oxytocin, saying:

"Oxytocin is released during sexual arousal and orgasm, but also during childbirth, skin-to-skin contact with a newborn, and breast-feeding. With oxytocin comes a rise of endorphins, which can naturally reduce pain."

According to Vice, synthetic drugs that mimic oxytocin can have a stalling effect on childbirth, saying:

"Synthetic drugs — like Pitocin, the drug most commonly administered in hospitals to speed up labor — mimic oxytocin, creating stronger, more frequent contractions than the natural hormone, often leading to a numbing epidural. As adrenaline increases during labor, it can inhibit oxytocin production and redirect blood flow away from the uterus—essentially preparing your body for "fight or flight" and ultimately stalling labor. This may lead to assisted delivery using tools like a vacuum or forceps, or an emergency Cesarean section."

So, is it safe to have an orgasm during childbirth? According to research, as long as you're not introducing anything into your vagina in order to "peak during pushing," experiencing a little bit of ecstasy during labor and delivery just might help you handle those painful contractions like a boss.

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