Sex drive: Does breastfeeding decrease a woman's libido?

Does breastfeeding decrease a woman's libido? I am nursing a 13-month-old who has just learned to drink out of a cup without assistance. I am wondering if weaning him will spice up my sexual relationship with my husband?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Yes -- sometimes nursing can dampen your sex drive (sorry!). Research has found that some breastfeeding moms have an increased interest in sex, while others show just the opposite.

But forget about your desire for a minute and take stock of your lives as new parents -- you’re likely both exhausted, especially if other children are in the picture, so when the baby finally drifts off, you’re probably dying to call it a night, too. It’s tough work caring for a newborn, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you just can’t muster the excitement.

Know also that sex may not be as pleasurable when nursing because you may experience a decrease in vaginal lubrication (even when fully aroused). Both of you should understand that this is physiological, and not indicative of mood -- it’s just your hormones at this time. You might want to experiment with an OTC vaginal lubricant.

You may also feel all touched-out at the end of a long day, but try not to put off intimacy. Just take the time you need to become reacquainted with your partner. Start with little dates (coffee, a walk) and get creative (and flexible) -- perhaps have a go during naptime on the weekends. Quickies, though not too great as the staple of your sex life, can be a terrific way to reconnect when time is short. Don't overlook their benefit -- quickies aren't just for men!

I would definitely not advise weaning to spice up your sex life. Wean your baby when you and he are both really ready. Lactation and sex can coexist. Begin to enjoy that part of your relationship now, and if sex does become more desirable once your little guy weans, consider that an added bonus! I think you will find that by allowing more time for intimacy -- thinking about it, planning it -- your desire will begin to increase.

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