Evening Primrose Oil to Induce Labor

Evening Primrose Oil, also referred to as EPO, is oil from the evening primrose plant. Evening Primrose is one of the oldest known plant remedies to be used for pregnancy and was used by Native Americans.

Not Just for Pregnancy

Evening Primrose is not just for pregnancy. It is commonly used to ease uncomfortable symptoms of menstruation, ovulation, and menopause, among other things.

Some women have found it particularly effective in boosting fertility and achieving pregnancy. It's also safe for use while breastfeeding.

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How Evening Primrose Oil Works

EPO contains essential fatty acids, linolenic acid (LA), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The body uses GLA to produce beneficial compounds called prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins have long been known to help “ripen” the cervix, making it stretchy and aiding in dilation and effacement during labor.

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Not an Induction Method

Evening Primrose doesn't technically “induce” labor, because it's not thought to start or shorten labor, but it can prepare the cervix for labor and reduce tearing. Labor is a complex event that includes many hormones and parts of the body. EPO does its part to aid the cervix in its particular job during labor.

When and How to Use EPO

Evening Primrose Oil may be taken orally or used as a vaginal suppository.

EPO should not be used before the 36th week of pregnancy because of its ability to help in cervical dilation. I recommend taking the supplement orally at 36 weeks, and waiting until 38 weeks to begin using it as a vaginal suppository.

You should speak to your doctor or midwife about using EPO, especially if you have had a previous cesarean, as the overuse of prostaglandins can cause hyper-stimulation of the uterus. Your doctor or midwife may not “recommend” its use, but if you really want to use it, ask them if it will harm you in any way; If the answer is no, it's your call.

An alternative to Evening Primrose is Borage Oil, which is also sometimes used in preparation since it contains many of the same properties.

creative commons photo by mccormacka


10 thoughts on “Evening Primrose Oil to Induce Labor

    1. Bottles of EPO in capsule form usually have a dosage suggestion on the bottle. If I remember correctly, this is usually 2-3 small capsules daily. Hope that helps!

    2. Hi, and thanks for your comment. If you are buying the gel capsules, the dosage should be listed on the bottles. Usually 2-3 capsules daily.

  1. HI,
    Im 37 12 weeks pregnant and having some contractions but not regular at all. I have the EPO capsules 1000mg. Is it better to insert them in the vagina than to take them? About how long does it take for the cervix to dilate if it’s high and closed at this time? My pregnancy is a health one and I have 4 children which I delivered naturally (one with castor) but all healthy. What would be your instruction for using the EPO with this pregnancy? Pls advise =)

    1. Mrs. Keitt, thanks for stopping by. I cannot give medical advice, but it should be okay to use EPO vaginally at 38 week on. Vaginal EPO will generally be more effective than taken orally.  How long it takes for your cervix to dilate will depend mostly on the right time of birth for your little one. In a healthy pregnancy, EPO will generally not induce labor, but it can facilitate the cervix in dilating and softening more effectively. If you need more specific instructions for use, I recommend having a discussion with your care provider.

      1. Okay, I will consult with my doctor before using EPO again because I started last night with 2 capsules. The internet has so many different theories about EPO it’s hard to know whats right or wrong, you know?! I have an appointment tomorrow though so I can ask if it’s okay to continue. I would like to ask one other question please….when using EPO does it give off some contractions? I did use EPO last night and I felt a couple contractions about 5 hrs after use, that felt like the real thing but it was not. I was wondering do you think EPO caused that? I just wanted to know because I’m so curious to know. I’m sorry I should have asked before.

      2. Actually I just called the doctors office and my doctor does not think the EPO works at all. He states that its a waste of money so I guess that answers my question if it caused any contractions last night for me. Thanks for the insight you have provided to me. It’s greatly appreciated! Have a blessed one!

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