Breastfeeding, Sexuality and Contraception During the Postpartum Period

Author(s): Dat Van Duong Van Duong.

Journal Name:Current Pediatric Reviews

Volume 8 , Issue 4 , 2012


It is generally agreed that contraception after childbirth improves the health of mothers and children by lengthening birth intervals. Every year, it is estimated over 100 million women make decision about beginning or resuming contraception after childbirth. The timing of contraception initiation is important since the return of menstruation and ovulation can be unpredictable in breastfeeding women. This review discusses the relationship between breastfeeding, sexuality and contraception during the postpartum period.

Evidence shows that many couples resume sexual intercourse before the sixth postpartum week. Yet information on the relationship between sexuality and breastfeeding is limited and conflicting. While some studies reported positive effects of breastfeeding on sexuality, many studies showed a delay in the resumption of sexual activities among breastfeeding compared with bottle-feeding women. Since many women become sexually active earlier than 6 weeks post-partum, they should use a method of contraception before the sixth week, especially if they are not breastfeeding.

Evidence confirms the recommendations of Bellagio Consensus Conference in 1988 on Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) that fully breastfeeding women who remain amenorrheic have a very small risk of becoming pregnant in the first 6 months after delivery (less than 2%). As soon as the baby is 6 months old or as soon as supplementary feeding is started or menses is resumed, LAM no longer provides effective contraception, and other family planning methods should be introduced if pregnancy is not desired. Despite its demonstrated efficacy, many women, however, decide not to use LAM due to concerns of its efficacy and uptake of this method is low in many countries.

Given the demonstrated efficacy of LAM as a contraceptive in the postpartum period, the method should be more strongly promoted for its effective use in developing countries, in particular where access to or the acceptability of other forms of contraception may be limited.

Keywords: Lactational amenorrhea method, breastfeeding, sexual resumption, contraception, postpartum, family planning

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Article Details

Year: 2012
Page: [332 - 338]
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.2174/157339612803307723
Price: $58