Breastfeeding and Sex

Will I ever have sex after baby?

I am so tired, all I can think about is sleep.

I have been holding the baby all day; I am touched out.

I am in awe of my body, and I feel empowered.

Many parents report changes in their sexual lives while breastfeeding. Physical changes in our bodies during the post-partum period and lactation, lack of sleep, and the demands of caring for young children all contribute to a shifting sense of self, including our experiences of ourselves as sexual beings.  Whatever you are experiencing, from increased desire, to no desire at all, and everything in between, others have been there before you.  Discussing your experiences with others, such as at a La Leche League meeting, can be a reassuring way to feel that you are not alone.

Breastfeeding changes hormone levels in your body, and some women experience sexual changes as a result. In particular, oxytocin, estrogen, and prolactin play a role in both breastfeeding and arousal. Low estrogen levels resulting from the post-partum period and breastfeeding may result in vaginal dryness, tightness, or tenderness.[1]  Some women find that water based lubricants can increase pleasure and decrease discomfort. Oxytocin released during sexual orgasm is also responsible for letdown when breastfeeding and it is not uncommon to leak or squirt breastmilk when sexually aroused.[2]  Prolactin, which increases in order to produce breastmilk, can cause a decrease in libido.[3]  If you are experiencing sexual changes that are a problem for you, consider speaking to your healthcare provider about your concerns.

[1] Mohrbacher, M., Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple,  Hale Publishing, Amarillo, TX, 2010, p. 489.

[2] Id.

[3] UCLA Pituitary Program, Prolactimia, acceded 1 Feb. 2018, at http://pituitary.ucla.edu/prolactinoma

LLL Great Britain Article: Mothers on Breastfeeding & Sex

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