Many moms find that their sex drive while nursing is really low. Learn why you have a low libido while breastfeeding and how to deal with it!
The Low Libido While Breastfeeding & What to Do About it
In this article:
- Low Libido While Breastfeeding – Is it Just Me?
- The Breastfeeding Hormones Suppress Libido
- Lack Of Sleep Can Drive Your Insane
- Being Over Touched Doesn’t Help
- Hurting Nipples And Painful Sex
- The (Not So Sexy) Post Pregnancy Body
- Does The Libido Ever Come Back?
- How to Deal with the Low Libido
- Visitors’ Love Life With A New Baby
Low Libido While Breastfeeding – Is it Just Me?
Are you shocked or worried about your very low libido while breastfeeding?
While breastfeeding, your hormones are all over the place. And you’re tired. And it hurts…
As a result, New Mom’s sex drive can be almost non-existent. This can be a great frustration for the woman and her partner.
Some moms I’ve talked to say that they almost felt ill for some time because of the low sex drive while breastfeeding.
How about you, Mom? Vote in this poll on mom’s libido when breastfeeding.
And it is just my random talking to other moms that indicate low libido among new moms. Several research studies confirm what we already know. For example, research from 2020 concluded:
“Studies have shown that 89% of women resume sexual activity within 6 months of giving birth. Sexual dysfunction prevalence rates vary from 41% to 83% at 2–3 months postpartum to 64% at 6 months postpartum, not reaching pre-pregnancy levels of 38%. Some studies indicate that at a span of >18 months after birth, women have markedly lower levels of sexual pleasure and emotional satisfaction.”
So what’s going on?
There are several reasons for the low libido that many new mothers experience. Hormones play a large role but are not the whole explanation. Lack of sleep and pain are other factors.
Leaking breasts (not so sexy), stretch marks (not so sexy either, according to Mom), and feeling uncertain about the post-pregnancy appearance also play a part. (And did I mention pain and no sleep…)
Let’s dig a bit deeper.
The Breastfeeding Hormones Suppress Libido
Two hormones that are great for breastfeeding and really bad for your sex drive are involved.
The first one is oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for the breast milk let-down reflex.
Ironically, oxytocin is also called the “love hormone” and contributes to moms’ strong wish to cuddle their babies. Oxytocin is also involved in lovemaking (thereby its nickname) and is actually released during orgasm. At least in theory, one would think that this should benefit the interest in sex while breastfeeding, but no (for most new moms).
Instead, it can make the breast milk leak during orgasm, which can be a real turn-off for some moms. (If this is your case, make love with a bra on (with nursing pads). This way, it doesn’t have to disturb you. )
Estrogen is another hormone affecting your interest in sex while breastfeeding. Estrogen levels are very low while breastfeeding. This prevents ovulation, lowers interest in sex, and may cause vaginal dryness.
One research study concluded that the combination of low estrogen progesterone and androgen levels and high levels of the hormone prolactin may indirectly affect sexual interest by decreasing vaginal lubrication, causing vaginal atrophy, increased breast sensitivity, and decreased sexual desire. So yes, the hormones while breastfeeding do NOT work to increase your libido!
Lubricants really are a must for many new moms. Two lubricants that new moms rave about are Pre-Seed Personal Lubricant and the Lube Life Water-Based Personal Lubricant. (Links to Amazon.)
You can learn more about the breastfeeding hormones here.
Interestingly, new studies show that the new dad is also affected by changing hormone levels when a new baby arrives. The effects may not be as dramatic as those of the mom, but they are real. You can read about how a new baby makes dad’s testosterone levels fall here.
Lack Of Sleep Can Drive Your Insane
Getting no sleep sure affects your wish to have sex while breastfeeding. (And while bottle feeding too, although some bottle-fed babies are fed by dad or sleep somewhat better because formula can be a bit more filling.)
No sleep can drive you crazy. It has been used for torture. As a new mom, I’m sure you understand why. It drives you nuts! It certainly doesn’t make you feel like trading a couple of hours of sleep for some hot time in bed with your partner.
For some new mom sleep tips, click here.
Being Over Touched Doesn’t Help
Many new moms have skin contact with another human being (the baby, for the most part) more or less all the time.
A mom I talked to told me that when she was home with her first baby, she really found it hard even to let Dad take off his shoes in the evening before giving the baby to him. She was so over-touched!
When being a new mother, it is easy to start longing to not be touched by anyone for a change. Great for the sex drive? Not.
On the other hand, if left alone for a while, it can actually be great to be touched by your partner instead of someone who keeps throwing up at you (no matter how cute)…
So, dads, be patient! And carry the baby around while mom takes a shower, reads a book, sleeps or sits on the couch. This may lead to miracles!
Hurting Nipples And Painful Sex
Giving birth is painful, breastfeeding can be really painful at least in the beginning, and lovemaking can be painful for a long time due to soreness, stitches, and dryness.
Then the back and neck start hurting from carrying the baby around, sleeping, and nursing in weird positions.
Then there’s the headache from a serious lack of sleep…
Pain, pain, pain.
Not exactly great for the interest in sex while breastfeeding.
The (Not So Sexy) Post-Pregnancy Body
Mom has a fantastic body. Period. Carrying a child for 9 months and then giving birth to it one way or the other is hard work and a miracle. However, as the body might change quite a bit from its pre-pregnancy look, many women feel self-conscious over their bodies post-pregnancy. Unfortunately, this may also have negative effects on the sex drive.
Try to give yourself a break! In two ways… First of all, you are great – no matter what you see in the mirror! You just gave birth; don’t demand from yourself to have a perfect body!
Secondly, start working on getting back in shape over time. Start exercising slowly and think a little bit about what you eat if you’re worried about baby fat.
Buy a stretch mark cream if the marks really bother you. Creams can never take the marks away completely, but some creams have well-documented positive effects. Check out:
- Body Merry Stretch Marks Cream
- StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles
- Nature’s Design Bye Bye Stretch Marks
Do your best to fix what you have to (and can) and try to love the rest.
And dads, since feeling unsure about their body can be one of the reasons for a new mom’s low libido while breastfeeding, make a true effort to show your spouse how much you appreciate her and her body!
Does The Libido Ever Come Back?
A wise Mom said: Don’t worry, sure your sex drive will come back – otherwise the human race would be extinct!
Excellent! (And true.)
But I won’t lie to you; it can take a long time. And since it is not only the breastfeeding hormones that affect mom’s libido negatively, weaning from breastfeeding may not turn mom into a sex goddess overnight.
There is light in the tunnel, though. Recent research (from 2021, reference below) confirms that once the baby starts eating foods other than breast milk, the mom’s libido generally starts increasing. This seems reasonable since breastfeeding hormones then decrease, and it is easier for the partner to help out. Also, the babies are older, and maybe a bit more predictable, and moms and dads have become used to being parents.
Chances are that when a couple embarks into parenthood, it will take years until their sex life is completely back on track.
How to deal with low libido while breastfeeding
So what to do? Well, one important thing is actually to accept this change. The more you worry about it, the worse the situation will feel. And the more you get irritated at each other about sex, the less sex will happen for sure!
The other thing is, of course, to do the best of the situation. Be nice to each other. Have fun together. Have sex, at least now and then.
And Dad, don’t panic and don’t hunt Mom down. Doing that will certainly not help your over-touched, exhausted partner to get her sex drive back!
Mom, do have sex from time to time. Having sex is actually great for your interest in sex while breastfeeding (and for your relationship).
Here are some tips written by a dad of three on how to make sex happen again after birth. Maybe they can be of help!
By the way, not all moms have a low sex libido while breastfeeding. If your libido is just as usual (or better), be grateful and have fun!
Breastfeeding or not – you’ll find a lot of useful survival tips for the new mom here.
Other Parents’ Love Life After Pregnancy
A few parents have shared their situation by commenting below. And you can comment completely anonymously.
This mom wrote a longer letter, that we published separately: Still Breastfeeding, No Libido
And here you can read about a destructive myth that worries many moms and dads in parts of Africa: Is it True that Sex While Breastfeeding Destroys the Milk?
Holanda JBL, Richter S, Campos RB, Trindade RFCD, Monteiro JCDS, Gomes-Sponholz FA. Relationship of the type of breastfeeding in the sexual function of women. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. 2021 Jul 19;29:e3438. doi: 10.1590/1518.8345.3160.3438. PMID: 34287538; PMCID: PMC8294779.
Gutzeit O, Levy G, Lowenstein L. Postpartum Female Sexual Function: Risk Factors for Postpartum Sexual Dysfunction. Sex Med. 2020 Mar;8(1):8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2019.10.005. Epub 2019 Dec 16. PMID: 31837965; PMCID: PMC7042171.
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.
This Post Has 15 Comments
After having my baby boy I found myself alone in my bedroom. My husband seems to prefer the sofa to our bedroom. My libido is back, but my husband doesn’t want me.
The baby sleeps in his own room, but wakes up to eat every two hours.
My husband complains that the baby keeps him up and he can’t sleep. He has to get up for work between 4 am and 6 am.
When ever I try to be intimate with him it doesn’t go anywhere, I’ve even been flat out rejected a couple of times. I’m one of those lucky women who has a great sex drive after having my baby just my partner has ditched me.
He has a fat phobia, and I’m having trouble losing my baby weight while breastfeeding. I’ve almost lost my milk a couple of times because I wasn’t eating enough, and burning too many calories in the gym.
I’m at a loss and don’t know how to handle my not so sensitive hubby?
I really feel for you!
While it is more common that it is the mom who completely loses the sex drive post-pregnancy, it can of course also happen to the dad (or to both!). For dad, it is not so much the hormones, but usually more fatigue, and the whole transition to becoming parents, which can be overwhelming.
Either way, it is a very painful situation for both. The person who does have a sex drive feels constantly rejected and starts to doubt his or her sex appeal (like you do) and the other person might feel a lot of pressure (a complete turn-off!) and may also start to wonder if something is wrong with her and him.
And added on to this is the tension and disappointment is may create between the two persons as well as the disappointment with the whole situation: “This should be our happiest time ever, and we are just miserable”.
So what to do?
Well, the first and most important thing to do is to talk to each other. Not late at night. Not with accusations. Just a kind talk about this problem you have now with completely different sex drives.
You won’t solve it with just one talk. But if you can start having friendly talks about this, and if possible with the mindset from both of you such as: “What can I do to make my partner feel better” then you’ve come a long way.
Maybe your hubby needs you to stop taking initiatives for while if he feels very pressured.
Maybe you need at least to be held or have him remember to give you compliments so that you stop worrying about him not liking you for your looks.
Maybe he can commit to initiating an intimate situation once per week or every two weeks if you step back?
Maybe he can get earplugs, or you put a mattress in your baby’s room so that you can sleep together most of the night without your husband being totally exhausted in the morning.
There are probably a lot of things you can do together to slowly improve the situation. But as long as you fight or not talk or accuse each other, you will get nowhere.
I bet you love each other very much!
And I bet your weight is not the problem. If someone we love gains a bit of weight, it really doesn’t matter much. Sure a slim body looks great according to the ideals we have in our society, but when it comes to someone we love, it is not at all as important.
So don’t blame yourself. And don’t blame your hubby. It is no one’s fault and it is a very common situation to have a mismatched libido when being new parents.
Try to help each other instead, maybe using this answer as your starting point. And also, if you really can’t solve it, don’t hesitate to contact a counselor. They can be of great help in your situation!
I really wish you the best of luck!
It’s been 2 years on Wednesday since I had my daughter and sex it so extremely painful still, I feel so sorry for my partner who has stood by me through the past 2 years and understands, our sex life is non existent. I’m finally taking the dive tomorrow to see my dr about it, examination or not!!
I am so discouraged to learn that this might continue on! And we are planning to get pregnant again twice more with one-year gaps… sounds like I won’t enjoy sex again until I am almost at menopause! If I can even bear to have it to GET pregnant…
Really pleased to know that I’m not the only one, I was about to see a GP today because of the low sex drive, dryness and painful sex I’ve been having after giving birth to my son. I really thought I have some kind of problem.
My son is now 9 months, I too also had C-section and am still breastfeeding. My husband and I attempted to have sex a few times but only twice was successful since giving birth due to the problem above I’ve experienced.
I wouldn’t want to give up on breastfeeding but it’s really hard to think it might affect our relationship. Although my husband has to be very
supportive and understanding, but who knows how long he can take.
I am so glad to know I am not the only one.
My twins are 6 months and I am breastfeeding. We have only had sex twice since they were born via c section and the first time we had to stop because it was so painful.
I don’t even want to think about sex which is weird because I was extremely sexual and had no problem with my natural lubrication before I got pregnant.
My biggest worry is that it will ruin our relationship but he assures me he totally understands. I do pleasure him orally quite often just to make sure he stays around LOL! That would be my advice to anyone in my situation because every guy knows they’re the luckiest if they’re getting a BJ all the time even if there’s no sex
Wow! I am so happy I came across this forum!
I, too, am a new breastfeeding mom of a 12-week old baby girl & have not been able to have sex yet. I have been feeling so incredibly guilty since my boyfriend & I unsuccessfully tried to have sex at 6 weeks post. We tried about once a week for a few weeks, all ending up unsuccessful with me crying from the pain.
We tried a few different lubricants & some toys thinking that I just had to ease back into sex with my changed body but nothing seems to be working.
About two weeks ago, I got an IUD implanted for birth control & talked to my OB/GYN about the painful sex & she explained exactly what we are
all talking about on here.
Breastfeeding causes you to lose all estrogen & therefore can also cause extreme dryness which is much like your body is going through menopause. She advises lots of water-based lubricant & prescribed me Estrace- a menopausal cream that you insert much like a tampon. I used it once & it was quite messy & seemed to leak out periodically all day.
After reading some posts online, a lot of women have had success with these menopause creams so I think I am going to try to use this again.
I really wish this was spoken about more often because I did not anticipate all this guilt & it’s been a battle because I feel like I have to decide
whether to continue breastfeeding & put that frustration & the strain on my relationship with my boyfriend or to stop breastfeeding & deal with the guilt of giving our baby formula.
Here’s to hoping we can find a solution where breastfeeding can continue & pleasurable sex can make a comeback!
Thank you for creating this page. I went to the OB/GYN office because of sex being so painful after having my daughter. I had had a C-section, so I was NOT expecting sexual problems.
However, I found sex to be very painful & found that I’m having problems with dryness. The nurse practitioner at the OB/GYN office had never heard of breastfeeding moms having discomfort during sex!
However, my own web research has turned up a number of sources explaining that the hormonal changes caused by breastfeeding can cause low sex drive,
dryness, extra sensitivity/discomfort, etc.
It’s hard to continue breastfeeding knowing that if I stopped, my relationship with my husband might actually go back to normal. But there are so many health benefits for my baby that I’m going to try to keep breastfeeding until my daughter is 6-9 months old. I don’t think I’m going to make it for a full year.
It’s just amazing that a nurse at the OB/GYN can be so uninformed! I bet she hadn’t had any children of her own.
I’m glad you didn’t give up and searched for more information. And it sure is something people don’t talk about and don’t make an expecting mom
(and dad) prepared for!
To give you a little bit of hope, once your baby starts eating more and more solids, it might just be that your sex drive improves as well as the dryness – even without weaning from breastfeeding.
And do remember to show your husband all the information about how crazy hormones get from breastfeeding so that he understands what’s going on.
I was really worried… I just had sex for the first time since my c-section ( 4 weeks ago) we used lube but I was really sensitive! it felt like he was stretching me apart almost like having sex for the first time ever! It got a little more enjoyable as we went on …but I was worried there was something wrong with me…
guess it’s because I’m breastfeeding.
Wow, I am glad to know that I am not alone in having a low sex drive and I find that sex is very painful and uncomfortable since having my son.
I too had a C section and am breastfeeding. I was wondering if it was just me experiencing these problems.
I have found that Pre-Seed works as an amazing lubricant. You can only order it online.
It is used primarily for women who are trying to conceive as it does not interfere with the sperm and it mimics your own body fluid perfectly. I
used it the second time we had sex after giving birth and the sex was much better.
I have a beautiful six and a half month baby, a gorgeous and understanding husband, no period and a painful sex-life…
By this point post pregnancy, I was sure things would be getting back to normal in the intimacy department. However, sex is rather painful and I
am dry and raw. I have little to no desire and I fear my sex drive will never return!
At this point, I rack it up to hormones. Since I haven’t had even a hint of a period and I am breastfeeding full time. If you are in the same position, you are not alone!
I feel bad for my husband because we both thought by this point things would be getting better, our daughter is almost 7 months old! Basically, I am still wondering what will happen but I am starting to think this is more normal than it feels. So I am just throwing this out there, that if you are like me, don’t worry.
My doctor said when women in this position stop breastfeeding things return to normal.. perhaps I will update in the near future :)
Take care out there.
Glad to hear of someone EXACTLY in my shoes!!
Mine is only 5 months old and I actually had a C-section. From what I am reading and the only thing I guess I need is to stock up on some lube! Is very frustrating though!
My son is 10 months old and STILL no desire for sex, if anything i feel insulted when my husband wants to have sex!
If it is the breastfeeding only time will tell…
Thanks for posting this! I also had a cesarean and didn’t expect to not have my sex life back yet (my daughter is also 6 mos old). I used to have a very good sex life and now intercourse is painful and it takes FOREVER to have an orgasm with oral stimulation (which is also very different than before). I’m also breastfeeding full time. I am beginning to get frustrated, not to mention my very understanding husband!!