The influence of coherent optical pumping in semiconductor lasers is investigated theoretically. In particular the mathematical conditions under which an optically pumped system behaves like an electrically (incoherently) pumped system are derived. We show that it is practically impossible to reach the interesting regime where coherent effects are important because of the inherent constraints to absorb photons at the pump frequency and to reach threshold gain at the lasing frequency. The effects of changing the temperature and of reduced dimensionality are discussed.