How Does Evening Primrose Oil Work to Induce Labor?


If you are on your 40th week of pregnancy then you must have been evaluating the natural ways of inducing labor. There are plenty of ways you can induce it. One of the ways is definitely with the help of evening primrose oil.

This oil should be applied vaginally in order to induce labor for pregnant women. There are also capsules available which you can have for fulfilling the same purpose. The oil has number of benefits. However, it comes with considerable side-effects. Read our blog to know about the factors you should consider before choosing to apply evening primrose oil for inducing labor.

Evening Primrose Oil to Induce Labor: Things You Need to Know

evening primrose oil

What is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose oil is an extract of the seeds of the evening primrose plant. The oil contains various acids including linolenic and gamma linolenic. The oil is also rich in Vitamin E. Due to its overall soothing effect the oil is also used for various other alternative medical therapies including the neuropathy and treating premenstrual syndromes. To be fair, it can be said that the oil has a certain quality which impacts the cervices of a woman. That is why particularly it is being used in order to trigger labor. (Bayles, 2009)

How to use Evening Primrose Oil?

The evening primrose oils which are available in the American pharmacies come in capsules. These capsules can either be had orally or inserted vaginally in order to induce the labor. Though there are no standard dosages available medically, you can take 500 mg to 2000 mg of the capsule on a daily basis. Start taking the capsules from the 38th week of pregnancy.

However, it is vital that you start with the lower dosages before increasing the intake of the capsules. Too much cervical relaxation at a sudden rate might trigger miscarriage.


Consult with your doctors: 

Every pregnancy shapes in a different way and that is why whilst planning a labor inducer you must always talk to your doctor. The doctor or the midwife will guide you with proper dosage and consultation.

First take the supplements orally : 

Before you start pushing the pills vaginally it is important that you start taking the pills orally. This would give your body enough time to cope with the acidic property of the pill. Only start the dosage when you are on your 38th week and not before that. Start with a lower dosage of 500 mg and then move on to higher ones, gradually. The increase should be steady and measured by a medical professional. However, it is advisable that you stop using the pills once you start experiencing severe side effects like for instance nausea, and diarrhea. The medicine can actually cause your stomach to churn and you should be aware of that.

Insert the Pills Vaginally : 

If recommended by your doctor, in addition to having the pills orally you should also insert the pills vaginally in the last two weeks of your pregnancy. Insert one capsule before going to the bed at night. (Bayles, 2009)

However, make sure that your hands and fingers are properly sanitized when you are actually pushing the pill inside the vagina. A bacterial infection in the later stages of the pregnancy is completely undesirable. Also the capsule would not cause much irritation inside your vagina. It will melt within few minutes. Eventually the oil will leak thereby starting to soften the cervix. This helps in triggering the labor on time. Sometimes massaging the perineum with evening primrose oil also helps in the process. But do remember to sanitize your hands if you are planning to do so.

Does Evening Primrose Oil actually work?

Evening primrose oil for inducing labor

Some studies suggest that evening primrose oil can soften the cervix of a pregnant woman and induce labor. There are also findings which suggest that the oil actually shortens the duration of the labor thereby bringing a lot of relief for the would-be mothers. (Dove, 1999)


However, there is strong empirical evidence missing which can strongly suggest that evening primrose oil effectively brings about labor or ensures that the tenure is short. This is mostly because none of the participants in the study only relied on evening primrose oil to induce labor.

But at the same time evening primrose oil has certain effect on the cervical wall of a woman. It causes some kind of contraction of the uterus and thins the lining of the walls. This is due the acidic property of the oil. (McFarlin, 1999). It can be safe to say that evening primrose oil works in unison with other labor inducing substances like for instance raspberry tea and nipple stimulators.  Sexual intercourse also helps in inducing labor. So, it is pretty hard to isolate the impact of evening primrose oil alone on the overall duration and the timing of the labor.

How does it actually work?

Evening primrose oil actually ripens your cervices. The wall of the cervix becomes soft and thin. This helps in inducing the labor in a proper fashion. The body acts on its own term but at times inducers like evening primrose oil helps in the process. That is why, till now many doctors and midwives suggest pregnant women to use this oil for vaginal delivery. (Dove, 1999)

The oil has certain acids, like in pineapples and ripe papaya that makes the wall of the cervix soft and contracts the uterus. Uterus contraction is a necessary factor which ensures that the baby can come out naturally from the mother’s vagina. That is the reason it is being advised that capsules should be taken only after the 38th week and not before that. Proper use of the oil will make your uterus contract at the right time so that your baby can come out smoothly through your vagina.

Benefits of Using Evening Primrose Oil

  • Evening primrose oil has no know side-effects on breastfeeding. Many pregnancy enhancers often create adverse effect on the lactation of the mother.
  • This oil is widely used by many midwives throughout the world and it is known to have very less side effects when compared to the harmful chemicals which are being used for inducing labors.
  • It is also being observed that the constant use of evening primrose oil nullifies the need of having medically induced labor. That is a huge positive for mothers opting for vaginal birth.

Disadvantages of Using Evening Primise Oil

  • Like many other labor inducing oils evening primrose also lowers the blood pressure also reduces the concentration of the blood cells. Too much of it might affect adversely for both the mother and the child. (McFarlin, 1999)
  • You cannot use this oil if you have certain kinds of medical complications.
  • This particular kind of oil in some cases is known to give tremendous headaches to the mother-to-be. She might also feel nauseous. When taken orally the capsules do tend to cause some stomach problems. Stomach pains are quite a common side effect. Apart from that people might also suffer from diarrhea at the later stages of use. In such cases you again have to decrease the dosages after consulting your doctor.


  • You cannot use evening primrose oil if you are suffering from any mental health problems. This oil should not be taken even if you have a bleeding disorder. Sometimes constant use of evening primrose oil can result in seizures and other blood related problems.
  • Evening primrose oil also conflicts with several medications and that is why you should only intake it after thorough consultation with your doctor.
  • Evening primrose oil becomes a hindrance if the delivery is not vaginal. It can often lead to miscarriage if excessively used.


Evening primrose oil is widely used by many midwives and doctors. However, it should only be used after consultation with a proper medical professional. If evening primrose oil does not suit you then you should seek for other pregnancy inducers like pineapple, papaya, raspberry tea and others. Spicy food also triggers labor amongst pregnant women but considering the state of the digestive system it should better be avoided.

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!