The role of prostaglandins for cervical ripening and induction of labour has been examined extensively. Human semen is the biological source that is presumed to contain the highest prostaglandin concentration. The role of sexual intercourse in the initiation of labour is uncertain. The action of sexual intercourse in stimulating labour is unclear, it may in part be due to the physical stimulation of the lower uterine segment, or endogenous release of oxytocin as a result of orgasm or from the direct action of prostaglandins in semen. Furthermore nipple stimulation may be part of the process of initiation.
This is one of a series of reviews of methods of cervical ripening and labour induction using standardised methodology.