Primrose Oil During Pregnancy: Safety, Benefits & Risks

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IN THIS ARTICLE

There are not many studies available that highlight the effects of evening primrose oil during pregnancy. However, in some households, midwives commonly use this oil to help the cervix dilate and for inducing labor. On the other hand, it has also been stated that primrose oil might increase the risks of postpartum hemorrhage or bleeding problems in newborns. So is it safe to use evening primrose oil? Continue reading to learn about this oil’s safety, usage, benefits, and possible side effects for expectant mothers.

The Debate

Primrose oil, among many other essential oils and herbal remedies, has been a subject of debate for a long time.

  • Some herbal medicine practitioners may recommend this oil to tackle different symptoms during pregnancy.
  • Some experts claim that using primrose oil could actually be harmful, and might lead to the prolonged rupture of membranes (1).

The Risks Of Using Primrose Oil During Pregnancy

The most common risks that are said to be associated with the use of primrose oil during pregnancy are:

  • It is believed that taking primrose oil during pregnancy could result in severe diarrhea, nausea and also bloating.
  • It is also believed that primrose oil contains certain compounds that could soften the cervix and induce labor (2), which could in turn be a cause of miscarriage.

Benefits Of Using Primrose Oil

Some viable benefits associated with primrose oil are as follows:

  • Primrose oil is often taken as a dietary supplement and is rich in essential fatty acids and linoleic acid (3), which are substances that the body needs but cannot make.
  • Evening primrose oil has also been found to be rich in gamma linoleic acid which helps your body function better.
  • Evening primrose extracts have also been used as an excellent natural fertility treatment.
  • It is believed that the extracts of this oil can improve the release of cervical mucus during ovulation, which helps the sperm stay viable for a longer duration. Thereby increasing the chances of a successful fertilization, followed by conception.

Is Evening Primrose Oil Safe During Pregnancy?

While evening primrose oil does have some good health benefits attached with its use, there are certain facts that cannot be neglected. For instance, some studies have reported that evening primrose oil has been often used to induce labor and also aie in cervical ripening in women. However, there are no reliable scientific studies that support these claims and therefore, it is advised to prevent the use of the same (4).

While this may be helpful for women who are overdue, it may be risky for you, especially if you’re in the early stages of pregnancy (around 30 weeks).

The Verdict

There is no doubt that views are divided on the use of primrose oil, and before you make a choice, we strongly recommend a word with your doctor.

  • Remember that the use of evening primrose oil is widely discouraged by most medical practitioners.
  • If you are overdue, you can always talk to your doctor about using evening primrose oil extracts as a natural way to induce labor. This obviously has to be done under the guidance of your doctor.
  • You could also choose to supplement your diet with this nutritious oil (with the doctor’s advice of course) after you’ve delivered your baby. It has been found that taking this supplement orally could help you tackle postpartum blues and stress and may help you heal better. Women having an episiotomy have often been advised to take the extracts of this oil during the pregnancy period to heal the torn tissues better.
  • Make sure you rule out any drug interactions or allergic reactions to this oil and take it in the required dosage only.

Evening primrose oil is connected to health benefits such as the improved release of cervical mucus during ovulation, increasing fertilization chances. It is also rich in essential fatty acids, linoleic acid, gamma-linoleic acid, which aid in the body’s functioning. However, according to some studies, evening primrose oil during pregnancy may cause cervical ripening and prematurely induce labor. Hence, consult your doctor before using this extract or adding evening primrose supplements to your diet to avoid any negative effects.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. D. Dove; P Johnson; Oral evening primrose oil:its effect on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low risk nulliparous women.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10380450/
  2. Mohaddese Mahboubi; 2019; Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil in management of female ailments.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718646/
  3. Narinder Kaur; Vishal Chugh; 2012; Essential fatty acids as functional components of foods – a review.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190204/
  4. Mahnaz Kalati et al.; 2018; evening primrose oil and labor, is it effective? A randomized clinical trial.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29426270/

 

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Michelle Hawksworth

(RD)
Michelle Hawksworth is a registered dietitian as well as trained Yoga teacher with a passion for wellness. During her training, Michelle developed an interest in nutrition before, during and after pregnancy. This has led her to work with to-be and expectant mothers to help them optimize their health before, during and after pregnancy. During her practice as a dietitian, Michelle... more

Sadiya Qamar

Sadiya is a writer and editor with a passion for writing about parenthood and children. Her focus areas are health, wellness, and beauty. For MomJunction, she writes on kids’ health and nutrition.  Sadiya believes in doing in-depth research and providing accurate information to help parents with concerns on their children’s growth and development.