How might breastfeeding affect a woman’s sex life?

When a woman is breastfeeding, she might develop some sexual difficulties, which may be related to hormonal factors, physical discomfort, fatigue, psychological factors or a combination of all the above.

Usually, such issues are temporary and can be addressed.

Some of the sexual issues breastfeeding women may face include the following:

  • Vaginal dryness. While a woman is breastfeeding, her estrogen levels decrease. Because estrogen is vital for keeping vaginal tissue moist and healthy, many breastfeeding women experience vaginal dryness, which makes sex uncomfortable.
  • Low sex drive. High prolactin levels and declines in estrogen and testosterone can diminish a woman’s libido. She might not be as interested in sex as she was before having a baby. Other factors, such as poor sleep, fatigue, anxiety, and the stress of caring for a newborn can also affect sex drive.
  • Breast and nipple pain. It can take time for mothers and babies to get used to nursing, which can cause some discomfort. Full breasts, blocked milk ducts, nipple blisters, and infections can also make the breasts painful to touch.
  • Fatigue. Because a baby eats every few hours, it can be difficult for breastfeeding mothers to get enough rest. Some find that they are just too tired for sex.

What can you do about sexual issues while you’re breastfeeding? Here are some suggestions:

  • Give it time. Hormonal levels should return to normal in time, especially once a baby starts nursing less. When prolactin decreases and estrogen and testosterone levels increase, sex drive and vaginal lubrication should be restored.
  • Communicate. Be open with your partner about what you’re feeling and what you need.
  • Try a lubricant. An over-the-counter water-based lubricant can make sex more comfortable. Silicone-based lubricants are also an option.
  • Have non-penetrative sex. Focus on caresses and sexual practices that give you pleasure without creating discomfort.
  • Wear a nursing bra during sex. The extra cushion of a nursing bra may relieve some breast and nipple discomfort.
  • Try to rest. This may be easier said than done, but consider asking your partner, family, and friends to help with errands and household chores so you can catch up on your sleep.
  • Consider using a contraceptive method! Even if your menstrual cycle is not regular yet, you still can get pregnant.
  • Call your doctor. Your doctor might make other suggestions for your personal situation.

Resources

TheBump.com

Pevzner, Holly

“8 Ways Breastfeeding Can Affect Your Sex Life and What to Do About It”

(March 2019)

https://www.thebump.com/a/breastfeeding-interfering-with-sex-life

International Society for Sexual Medicine

“Why do some breastfeeding women experience pain during sex?”

https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/why-do-some-breastfeeding-women-experience-pain-during-sex/

Sexual Medicine Society of North America 

“Women’s Sexual Health After Childbirth”

https://www.sexhealthmatters.org/did-you-know/womens-sexual-health-after-childbirth



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