Using evening primrose oil to induce labor might be controversial. Many midwives use evening primrose oil (EPO) for cervical ripening or as a natural remedy to induce labor. Oftentimes women claim that evening primrose oil helped them to have a natural, drug-free labor and delivery. At the same time, EPO has several serious side effects, like causing seizures or bleeding disorders, and therefore is not recommended for pregnant women. So, where is the common ground here?
If you are pregnant and seeking home remedies to induce labor or soften your cervix, there are several important things to consider.
Is it safe to take evening primrose oil during pregnancy?
Although EPO is not a prescribed drug, rely only on your doctor`s advice! Pregnancy is a special time when a woman is getting ready for the most important event in her life – getting a healthy and strong baby. You are now responsible not only for your life but also for the life of your child. Therefore, I cannot stress enough, how important it is to talk to your healthcare provider before taking evening primrose to induce labor!
How effective is evening primrose oil to induce labor?
There is no strong scientific evidence, that evening primrose oil helps with cervical dilation and to induce labor. Yes, it has been used by many women during the last centuries, but scientists have started to study the effects of evening primrose oil on labor induction only recently.
Actually, evening primrose oil is listed among the top 12 ways to naturally induce labor.
A study  records results of 54 women, who were orally taking evening primrose oil during their pregnancy (starting at 37 weeks). The results showed no benefits from taking EPO for the reduction of length of labor. A more recent study  also did not reveal any impacts that evening primrose oil may have on the duration of different stages of labor.
How does Evening Primrose Oil work?
Yet many women swear by evening primrose oil to induce labor. They use it orally and vaginally to ripen the cervix. So, this thing must be working, right? According to the Maternity Corner (read their cool article “Natural Labor Induction Methods”), evening primrose oil is a great source of prostaglandins, which prepares the cervix for labor.
The mechanisms involved in the initiation of human labor are largely unknown. What known is, though, that prostaglandins are important mediators of uterine activity . They play important role in the contraction of the smooth muscle of the uterus and are associated with cervical ripening.
Evening primrose oil contains essential fatty acids like omega-6 and lots of gamma-linoleic acid. It is known that these essential fatty acids play an important role in our health, however, the body is not able to produce the necessary amount of linoleic acid on its own.
Therefore, taking evening primrose supplements may be of great help. Evening Primrose Oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLC) which converts linolenic acid into prostaglandin. Therefore, evening primrose oil, being a natural source of fatty acids, helps to enrich body tissues with prostaglandins.
Does Evening Primrose Oil cause early labor?
Taking evening primrose oil in the early stages of pregnancy generally is not advised. Different sources warn future moms of taking EPO before the 34-35th week of pregnancy. The reason for being cautious is that EPO may cause uterine contractions and therefore can cause labor to begin earlier.
According to some sources (Pregnant Health, Maternity Corner), evening primrose oil cannot cause labor if your body is not ready for it. Evening primrose oil will only affect your cervix if your body is ready to go into labor naturally. But to be on the safe side, always consult your healthcare practitioner on when it is safe for you to start evening primrose oil to induce labor.
Is Evening Primrose Oil safe during pregnancy?
Be cautious, if you previously had problems with thin blood, if you are prone to blood clots. EPO also may lower blood pressure in people taking medication for high blood. The reason is that evening primrose oil is known as a very powerful natural blood thinner & can cause excessive bleeding after birth.
What is Evening Primrose Oil’s dosage for labor induction?
Many women struggle with the correct dosage of evening primrose oil during pregnancy. The usual approach would be the following:
- Starting at 35 weeks to take 1 capsule (500 mg) of evening primrose oil orally.
- Inserting evening primrose oil vaginally at 35 weeks is probably a bit too early.
- Starting around 37 weeks insert 1 capsule (500 mg) vaginally every evening before going to bed. The capsule dissolves naturally overnight.
- Some women start to increase the daily dosage to 2 capsules (1000 mg in total) at 36-37 weeks, and to 3 capsules (1500 mg in total) starting at week 38. The 4-capsule daily amount should be performed only in the last four weeks of your pregnancy.
- Some women are not comfortable with inserting EPO capsules vaginally. Then you can use liquid evening primrose oil: put it on your fingers and do a perineal massage. The perineum is the area between our vagina and rectum. Massaging the area throughout the last weeks of pregnancy can relax and soften the perineum. More on the exact technique on how to do a perineal massage with evening primrose oil read here.
For normal, natural births, it is important that all the organs and tissues of a woman are ready for delivery. By taking EPO supplements, you will stimulate the production of prostaglandins, and increase chances to make your final phase of pregnancy feel like a breeze. Ready to give it a try?
Here are the best evening primrose oil supplements you can use during your pregnancy
Evening primrose oil to take during pregnancy
Capsules per bottle: 60
Daily dosage during pregnancy: 1 capsule, starting at 35 week
6 month supply: 6 packages
Solgar primrose oil is free of gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, sugar, and sodium. They are also free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and colors. Great for inducing labor.
Price: $, buy on Amazon
Evening primrose oil content: 1300 mg
Capsules per bottle: 120
Daily dosage during pregnancy: 1 capsule starting at 38 week
6 month supply: 3 packages
Nature’s Way evening primrose oil contains 10% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) from non-GMO seeds. Cold-pressed, unrefined, and zero trans fat.
Price: $$, buy on Amazon
Bottle volume: 8 ounces
Daily dosage: use it for a perineal massage
A fast absorbing non-greasy natural liquid oil. Primrose oil helps in adding moisture to the skin and promoting healthy maintenance of collagen.
Price: $, buy on Amazon
As always be safe and check with your healthcare provider before starting to take any herbs and supplements.
Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
 Dove, D., & Johnson, P. (1999, May-Jun). Oral evening primrose oil: its effect on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low-risk nulliparous women. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 44(3), 320-4.
 J Obstet Gynaecol. (2018 Feb 9:1-5). Evening primrose oil and labour, is it effective? A randomised clinical trial.
 The role of prostaglandins in labor and delivery. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/14535042_The_role_of_prostaglandins_in_labor_and_delivery