Lactational Amenorrhea as a Birth Control Method

Lactational amenorrhea happens right after a woman gives birth and breastfeeds and renders her unable to conceive during this time.
Lactational Amenorrhea as a Birth Control Method

Last update: 12 April, 2021

Lactational amenorrhea is a natural birth control method. It’s based on the fact that breastfeeding stops menstruation. This is a temporary birth control method, since natural lactation makes women less likely to conceive.

Lactation interferes with the release of the hormones needed for ovulation. Thus, during lactation, a woman’s body doesn’t produce enough estrogen.

Women who use this birth control method don’t want to get pregnant. When women breastfeed, they produce less estrogen. They don’t ovulate and can’t get pregnant. Thus, the longer you breastfeed, the less likely you’ll ovulate.

This is the result of your body’s prolactin levels. High prolactin levels reduce production and release of another hormone: the gonadotropin-releasing hormone.

When gonadotropin-releasing hormone levels are low, the body also reduces the production of estrogen. It’s simple: you can’t ovulate without high levels of estrogen in your body and without ovulation, you can’t get pregnant.

Lactational Amenorrhea as a Birth Control Method

What are the best conditions for lactational amenorrhea as a birth control method?

Using lactational amenorrhea as a birth control method works best when women meet these criteria:

  • Have given birth sometime within the past six months.
  • Are breastfeeding their baby exclusively or almost exclusively.
  • Haven’t experienced menstrual bleeding since giving birth.

In addition, women who are taking medications should talk with their doctor first, in case those medications interfere with lactational amenorrhea. If either of these criteria aren’t met, then women should start using another birth control method.

Lactational Amenorrhea as a Birth Control Method

The benefits of lactation amenorrhea as a birth control method

Lactational amenorrhea allows women to trust breastfeeding as a method of family planning. Likewise, it has many benefits, as you can see below:

  • There aren’t any side effects.
  • It’s highly effective.
  • It can start right after giving birth.
  • It’s cost-effective and doesn’t need any complements.
  • It contributes to best practices for breastfeeding and, therefore, it improves the health and nutrition of mothers and lactating children.
  • It brings both mother and baby many health benefits.

What should I consider if I want to use this method?

  • Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth and stay with your newborn for, at least, several hours after giving birth.
  • Breastfeed often, both during the day and night and, exclusively during the first six months.
  • Keep breastfeeding your baby until they’re two years old.
  • Try to not use pacifiers or baby bottles.
  • Mothers who are breastfeeding need to eat and drink enough food and fluids to satisfy their hunger and thirst.
Lactational Amenorrhea as a Birth Control Method

An effective but limited method

This method doesn’t need any supplements or special procedures and it’s easy to use. Yet, it can only be effective during the first six months after giving birth. Anyhow, the effectiveness of lactational amenorrhea depends on how you do it.

The effectiveness of this method depends on the frequency and intensity of breastfeeding. Fertility will go up as the breastfeeding frequency and breast milk reduces. Still, there aren’t any associated health risks.

This is an effective, but limited birth control method. It’s only effective during the first six months after giving birth, for women who haven’t had menstruation and are breastfeeding only.

In conclusion, as with other birth control methods, talk to your doctor before using lactational amenorrhea as birth control. Both partners need to consider the pros and cons, and feel free to choose the method that best adapts to their own needs.

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