Topic Overview

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, avoid eating unripe papaya. Papaya that is unripe contains a latex substance that may cause contractions of the uterus. Papaya or papaya enzymes are sometimes recommended for soothing indigestion, which is common during pregnancy. Although a fully ripe papaya is not thought to be a problem, it is not known for sure if papaya is completely safe during pregnancy.footnote 1

The papaya enzyme that helps soothe indigestion is called papain, or vegetable pepsin. Papain is found in the fruit's latex and leaves.footnote 1 Unripe papaya latex may act like prostaglandin and oxytocin, which the body makes to start labour. Synthetic prostaglandin and oxytocin are commonly used to start or strengthen labour contractions.

Related Information



  1. Papaya (2010). In A DerMarderosian, J Beutler, eds., Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Wolters Kluwer Health.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMay 22, 2015