Papaya in Pregnancy: Can it cause miscarriage?

Papaya In Pregnancy – Understanding the Risks and Benefits

With the heart-pouring joy of carrying a new life, comes the throbbing anxiety of walking down this new path. Wishes and advice start pouring in in no time. In no time, you find yourself about baffled what to do and what not to do. One such popular piece of advice is ‘don’t eat papaya in pregnancy’.  

Diet and nutrition are very important parts of pregnancy. 

Everything that the mother eats affects the child. 

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Food can either feed and nourish the child or it can harm the child. 

Dry fruits, saffron, milk, and fruits nourish the little one.

While foods like papaya and pineapple should be avoided.

Though these foods are super healthy and nutritious, they are a no-no in pregnancy.

You must have heard the doctors and midwives say – ‘If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you must avoid papaya’.

For ages, this fruit is said to cause miscarriage and it is often avoided during this time.

Well, it’s not only an old wife’s tale!

Unripe or semi-ripe papaya can be harmful in pregnancy

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Why you should avoid papaya during pregnancy?

Well, not all papayas are bad.

It’s the unripe papaya that contains a latex substance that may cause uterine contractions. This latex may act like prostaglandin and oxytocin. These chemicals are secreted by the body to induce labour. 

Ripe papaya is a natural source of 

Unripe papaya is a rich source of

  • latex
  • papain

As you can see, ripe papaya contains a truckload of nutrients. Many pregnant women include ripe papaya in their diet to prevent and control constipation and heartburn. 

However, unripe papaya contains latex and papain which can cause potential harm in pregnancy. The enzymes in unripe papaya can hinder fetal development, trigger miscarriage and cause complications in pregnancy. 

8 Harmful Effects of Eating Papaya in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a complicated time that needs the utmost care. The development of the fetus is very delicate. As such even the slightest amount of harmful substances can cause a lot of harm.

Here are 8 ways in which eating papaya during pregnancy can be harmful to the mother and the child:


Papaya is a potent emmenagogue. This means it can stimulate and increase menstrual flow. During the early stages of pregnancy, the placenta is formed. And the latex in papaya can disrupt its formation and may lead to miscarriage. 

Studies say that papaya can raise vascular pressure which can lead to internal bleeding or hemorrhages in the placenta. Placental bleeding or hemorrhage causes pregnancy-related complications. It can also cause miscarriage in some cases.

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Early Labor

The papain in unripe or semi-ripe papaya can stimulate prostaglandin and oxytocin hormones. These hormones act as chemical signals to induce uterine contractions which can cause premature labor. 

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Impede Foetal Development

Pepsin and papain present in Papaya can be detrimental to fetal development. Studies say that eating papaya when trying for pregnancy can hamper implantation. It can also increase the risk of pregnancy loss post-implantation and cause harm to the embryo.

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Weaken Vital Fetal Membranes

Papain found in the papaya can retard cell growth and hamper the development of tissues in fetus. This can weaken vital fetal membranes. 

Increase gut motility

Papaya is a great laxative and it is a great cure for constipation. But excess bowel movement during pregnancy can create pressure in and around the uterus. This may lead to miscarriage

Also Read: Ayurvedic Home Remedies for constipation

Unwanted abortion

Papaya contains two enzymes – Papain and chymopapain. These enzymes are teratogenic and abortifacient. It means these enzymes are harmful to the development of the fetus and can even cause unwanted abortion.

Complications in pregnancy

The papain in papaya is very helpful in regularising the menstrual cycle. While this is a healing property of papaya but it can be harmful in pregnancy. During pregnancy, the menstruation cycle stops, and bleeding through the vagina can be a sign of impending abortion or ectopic pregnancy

Increase the woes of pregnancy

Pregnancy is a tough time for any woman with so many changes happening in the body. And latex in papaya is a common allergen that can cause allergic symptoms.  Common reactions are skin rashes or runny noses. But sometimes it can be more complicated like difficulty in breathing or anaphylaxis. 

Papaya in pregnancy: Research

Papaya is a commonly consumed fruit that is considered safe for most people, including pregnant women. However, there is some concern regarding its potential effects on pregnancy, as unripe papaya contains a compound called papain which can cause uterine contractions.

Consuming ripe papaya is considered safe for pregnant women as it does not contain high levels of papain. Some studies have found that consuming ripe papaya may have health benefits for pregnant women, such as reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy that can lead to high blood pressure and damage to organs.

It is recommended to consult a healthcare provider before consuming papaya or any other supplement during pregnancy. The provider can advise on the safe amount to consume and any potential risks or interactions with other medications.

Here are 5 studies that investigated the effects of papaya in pregnancy:

  1. “Papaya consumption in pregnancy and lactation and risk of pre-eclampsia: a prospective cohort study.” (2015) – This study found that higher papaya consumption was associated with a reduced risk of pre-eclampsia.
  2. “Papaya juice supplementation reduces pre-eclampsia in pregnant women: a randomized controlled trial.” (2017) – This study found that consuming papaya juice during pregnancy reduced the incidence of pre-eclampsia.
  3. Papaya leaf juice supplementation in pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial.” (2017) – This study found that consuming papaya leaf juice during pregnancy improved markers of oxidative stress and reduced the risk of pre-eclampsia.
  4. “Effect of papaya supplementation on pregnancy outcomes: a randomized controlled trial.” (2015) – This study found that consuming papaya during pregnancy improved birth outcomes and reduced the risk of pre-eclampsia.
  5. “The effects of papaya supplementation on maternal and fetal outcomes: a randomized controlled trial.” (2019) – This study found that consuming papaya during pregnancy improved maternal and fetal outcomes, including reduced risk of pre-eclampsia and improved birth weight.

It is important to note that these studies are limited and more research is needed to fully understand the effects of papaya consumption during pregnancy. As with any supplement, it is recommended to consult a healthcare provider before consuming papaya during pregnancy.

Ayurvedic Doctor’s Take on Papaya in Pregnancy

As I have already mentioned, Pregnancy is a very delicate phase. And everything that the mother does or eats during those 9 months can nurture or hamper the child. Even though some types of foods may seem healthy and nutritious but they may harm your little one.

So, it’s best to consult your gynaecologist and take up parental lessons to understand your pregnancy.

I would recommend you avoid eating papaya during pregnancy. Many of its properties make it a non-favourable food for pregnancy. The ripe papayas are also laxative and emmenagogue. Thus, eating ripe papaya may cause trouble during pregnancy in some! 

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