Libido and Breastfeeding – Where Did My Sex Drive Go?

Libido and Breastfeeding - Where Did My Sex Drive Go?

It would be a fair assumption to make, that as a new mother, you’d likely experience some sort of decline in your libido.

If it’s not from the fact that you’re exhausted from all the day-to-day demands of motherhood and sleep deprivation, you may be feeling all ‘touched out’ as a result of having a little bub on you all day – and the last thing you may want is your partner on you at night too!

You may also be feeling a little insecure about your new mummy figure or perhaps a little edgy about sex if you’ve had a difficult or traumatic birth.

However there are some perfectly normal, biological reasons why your libido may be completely zilch. Gone.

But before you start panicking about your feelings for your partner or lack of motivation to have sex, here’s what you need to know about your libido or sex drive while breastfeeding.

Low Libido or Sex Drive Does Not Mean That You Aren’t Attracted To Your Partner

Some new mothers become a little worried or startled to find that they have absolutely no sex drive while breastfeeding, and wonder if its because they are no longer attracted to their partner. However, there is no need to worry, as its usually not the case. But if any of the above mentioned libido dampeners haven’t stopped you from getting in the mood yet, wait, there is another! A big reason for low or no libido while breastfeeding is the result of some important hormones doing their dance in order for you to be able to breastfeed.

Medications and Low Libido / Sex Drive

If you’re on anti-depressants, you may already know that they can mess with your libido and orgasm. Some forms of contraceptives are also well known to result in low libido. Check with your doctor if you’re taking any of these – you may like to ask for an alternative medication.

Prolactin and Libido / Sex Drive

Mother nature is truly clever – after you give birth, your body makes wonderful, nutritious breastmilk, which will be laying foundations for your baby’s health for the rest of his or her life. This is courtesy of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for telling your sex drive to nick off. As the name suggests, prolactin is needed for lactation. When your baby feeds, you produce more milk and your body also suppresses ovulation – everything is perfectly geared towards the survival of your gorgeous little baby, including preventing a pregnancy too soon.

Estrogen

Just when you thought you had enough hurdles, here’s another. While there is no ovulation going on, levels of estrogen are lowered as well, which is why breastfeeding mothers have little or no cervical mucus. Vaginal dryness is the state of play – even if you feel like having sex or want to connect with your partner, it can make sex less enjoyable. Lubrication with water-based lubricant can be of great help, and make sure you tell your partner to go slow and take more time getting you aroused – which is a well justified excuse for a nice long massage first!

Without lubrication, sex may become uncomfortable or painful, which will likely result in even less desire to have sex again any time soon. Make sure you relay this to your partner, in order to get an understanding of why it could be critical to you enjoying sex.

When Will I Notice An Increase In Libido / Sex Drive?

As time goes on, the hormones needed for your regular menstrual cycle will start to build back up, and will overcome the cycle suppressing hormones. The length of time this takes is highly unique from woman to woman, and depends on several factors, including frequency of breastfeeding, dummy/pacifier use, formula use and the amount of solids consumed. See also Menstruation, Your Period and Ovulation After Baby.

As soon as you start ovulating again, you will likely notice an increase in libido at around ovulation time. It should fully return when baby has weaned. In the case that your libido has not returned after a lengthy period of time, you may like to visit your doctor and get your hormone levels checked, or see a naturopath if you’d prefer to balance out hormones naturally.

Some women try to wean their baby prematurely to get their cycle and/or libido back sooner, but it’s important to remember the gift you are giving your baby by providing him with breastmilk – and as a bonus, breastfeeding helps with weight loss and reduces your risk of breast cancer, amongst other things.

Should I Have Sex With My Partner Even Though I Have Low Libido / Sex Drive?

Low libido in any relationship can be such a sensitive topic to deal with. Some new mothers may feel guilty saying no to sex with their partners, who then feel rejected or unloved. Some new mothers report that their partners try to pressure them into sex or they get tired of their partner asking for sex. However, its important to communicate openly with your partner – it may be helpful to remind your partner (and yourself!) that you’re doing a great job, giving your baby the best nutritional food available and this is a small pay off for now.

Before you know it, breastfeeding will be nothing but a fond memory. Low libido is not worth ending your breastfeeding journey over, because just like baby’s crying spells, your lack of libido is temporary, not permanent and will pass. Remind your partner that the loss of sex drive is perfectly normal for a breastfeeding mother, and is nothing to do with your feelings for them, but more to do with a ‘tap’ being turned down (or off!) to make way for something else.

If you don’t want to have sex, don’t, but in this case try to make sure you find other ways to create intimacy in your relationship to keep it strong. Of course, a baby will take up a great deal of your time, so you both need to find little ways to take care of each other too, because before the baby, there was the two of you – and one day when he or she leaves home, it’ll be back to just the two of you again. Its important to keep nurturing your relationship through all the ups and downs.

Some ideas you might like to suggest is to give each other a candlelight massage (with permission to fall asleep!), go out to dinner, hold hands, snuggle up and watch a movie together, take a bubble bath or shower together – the sky is the limit. Get creative and be patient – your sex drive will return again.

If you or your partner are struggling with a lack of sex in your relationship, please see a sex therapist or counsellor. The last thing you want is for this to create resent or other problems when you’ve just had a baby.

On the other hand, if you’re keen or open to connecting with your partner on a sexual level, even though you can’t feel that usual excitement, then it’s always worth a go. You never know, you just might end up enjoying yourself!

Recommended Reading For Your Partner

We recommend that your partner reads our article Why Doesn’t She Want To Have Sex With Me After The Baby?

 
Last Updated: October 26, 2015

CONTRIBUTOR

Kelly Winder is the creator of BellyBelly.com.au, a doula, writer and mother to three awesome children. Currently, she's travelling the world for 12 months with her partner and children, and hopes to inspire more families to do the same. Visit aroundtheworldpluskids.com.au for more information.


21 comments

  1. I just want to say thank you for this article. It’s been 7 weeks since my period and 13 since birth. I’ve really wanted to be with my husband but have no desire. I feel so bad especially since I used to love sex. This article made me feel a lot better and has helped me emotionally. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this article. My daughter is six months old and starting to have solid foods after months of exclusive breastfeeding. My husband has stopped sleeping in our bed because he’s tired of being turned down. I don’t know how else to explain to him why I have no desire for sex. I tell him I love him every day, and do all that I can to show him that I do. He expresses frustration every day and it makes me feel terrible, but definitely doesn’t turn me on. Any intimacy between us since our daughter was born has been forced on my part. I tolerate it to make him happy, but I can’t even be bothered to do that any more. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here. I feel like I have to choose between continuing to breastfeed and my relationship with him.

    1. It is SO hard Khalei! Here are a couple of articles for men you can show him:

      http://www.bellybelly.com.au/men/why-doesnt-she-want-to-have-sex-with-me-after-the-baby/
      http://www.bellybelly.com.au/men/when-she-prefers-sleep-over-sex/

      It’s a difficult time, but when the roles are reversed, then they finally understand. We’re travelling the world this year, I am working, he is looking after our toddler. He’s finally seen how exhausting and emotionally draining it is. I wish all partners could experience this. It would change relationships forever!

    2. This is exactly me right now. I have a 6 month old son and a 3 year old daughter. And my husband constantly makes me feel bad that our sex life isn’t how it used to be when we first met. I feel like he has such unfair expectations of me. I won’t give up breastfeeding my son just to bring back my libido, I’ve commited to breastfeeding him for the first year of his life and I’m not going to give that up. I guess I’ll just have to fake it till I make it!

    3. ” I tell him I love him every day, and do all that I can to show him that I do. He expresses frustration every day and it makes me feel terrible, but definitely doesn’t turn me on. Any intimacy between us since our daughter was born has been forced on my part”
      This is exactly what happened to me, and my husband sum it up to total 2 years it was all my fault since my daughter was born. I am very stress right now.

  3. Thanks so much for this article, I have experience of low libido as a result of breastfeeding, even though my husband kept on explaining to me that I should exercise patience I got soo worried at a point.The more he tries to have sex the more I refuse and sometimes it feels terrible. I feel better after reading this article loud and clear together with him. Hope partners will understand mothers and marriage will still be enjoyable. We both wait patiently to see the improvement in my sex drive after I wean the baby, before then I will practice the one’s you suggested to make us happy. Good luck to all breastfeeding mother’s and stay blessed Kelly Winder

  4. I’m so glad that I’m not alone. I have 2 kids the first one is 7 years old & i had no problem at all of having sex after birth cos because i think with the hormones & everything i was even more horny than before & my orgasm was amazing we had sex 10 days after birth. But now unfortunately with my second baby he’s 6 months old I’m so dry, not interested in having sex with my husband & i was also worried that I’m no longer find him attractive. I love breastfeeding my baby & I’m glad that at least he’s a bit understanding that i keep turning him down all the time. Thank you for explaining all of this i will definitely make him read this article so he can have a better understanding too

  5. i have a 1 and a half year old daughter, i am still breast feeding her, she is the love of my life but i think its time to get her off the “boob”. i have no sex drive, whatsoever and i was starting to think that maybe i am not attracted to my husband anymore. reading this article made me realize that i might be totally wrong, and it might be because im still breastfeeding. my husband constantly wants us to have sex but i just am not turned on…..and when i don’t let him he gets mad at me. And i do feel guilty for leaving him like that but i just can’t have sex when i don’t want too.. i feel like he’s just sexually frustrated, but i dont want him to go look for someone else. its very difficult for me to get in the mood and well he doesn’t understand me. i honestly don’t know what to do anymore and i need some advice….

    1. Stopping breastfeeding may not fix it. Breastfeeding is just one piece of the puzzle and some mothers find they still have zero sex drive even well after they stop feeding. There are so many factors, for me it’s not having enough me time, let alone being so tired. I’m always feeling in need or demand. There are a list of reasons why mothers don’t feel like having sex after a baby, so you might like to consider what else might be contributing. We’re living in a society unlike ever before – so much stress, so much to do, so many screens, so many forms of addiction (from technology to food to smoking). Finding the root cause will set you free xx

      http://www.bellybelly.com.au/men/why-doesnt-she-want-to-have-sex-with-me-after-the-baby/

  6. This one is really educative…. I have 3. kids now.. my urge for sex returned very early when I had my first one but not with a the other two… infact the last one is totally no feelings at all and I thought I was medically not well…
    This is really good news for me cos have felt guilty of depriving my husband of sex for the past 7months

  7. It’s been 13 months since my son was born and I STILL have no sex drive. Thanks for the education!! Now I don’t feel so clueless!

  8. This makes me feel better… I’m gonna go show my boyfriend right now lol I had no idea that breastfeeding could make my libido so low. But to top it off I’m nursing twins! Plus I have a 4 year old daughter. My boyfriend doesn’t help me much and he doesn’t understand how exhausting it is. He works Alot so it’s just me and the kids most of the time. Then I FINALLY get all the kids down and he always wants to snuggle and have sex and I’m so exhausted and I feel like I’m finally able to have some “me time” where someone isn’t always pressed against me. All I want is my own space and we are starting to fight about it Alot because he feels I’m no longer attracted to him. But this article has really opened my eyes as to why I feel this way ! My twins are almost 6 months old and I’m trying to breastfeed for at least another 6 months so he’s going to have to be patient a little longer.

  9. Ok, as apparently the only man on here, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the untold male perspective. First let me say these are generalisations, definitely not true of everyone.
    Everything is correct here and proper communication and mutual understanding is the obvious key to success in any relationship. But a whole half of the story has not been acknowledged. Perhaps because men don’t vocalise their feelings, or even really understand them l, we seem to imagine they don’t exist.
    What hasn’t been said what is happening this whole time to the man. Sex fulfills needs a little differently for women and men. In a mature relationship in men, this is how men get their emotional fulfilment. It’s how they feel loved. This seems to be a very poorly understood issue. It doesn’t matter how many romantic dinners ect you have, he will still feel unloved and a desperately lonely. This is amplified by the physical needs, which turns loneliness into resentment and frustration/anger and this is where you get your typical “resentful child” from. Don’t get me wrong, he needs to understand your situation and why you don’t want it. Communication is essential and he should be trying to help you in every respect (as linked), but know this is a serious problem for him. In a way you can’t imagine l, he can’t just turn off the tap. Even if you tell him you love him every day, and he knows it on an intellectual level, he won’t be able to truly feel loved and this is key, and the reason a lot of strong relationships can fail here. He can literally fall out of love, because he has no emotional fulfillment, no love.
    That is the male perspective. It is quite simple, primal and doesn’t really make a lot of sense – but that is men in a nutshell, right?
    The solution is always communication, education and actively working on your relationship. If he’s working his butt off doing all of the stuff mentioned and things aren’t working out seek counselling. The truth is, sex is important, and never”just sex”. For men and women it acts on many levels, and is different for everyone. Eventually in every relationship it will die if you expect it to just come naturally when you get turned on like it did at the beginning of your relationship. Unfortunately it can’t be always spontaneous and romantic. Any happy old couple will tell you it has to be manually worked on.
    Relationships are about mutual support and understanding. A trade of time and effort for mutual happiness. It means that you both have to make sacrifices.

    For your own sake don’t overlook the importance of this, work at it. Tell him how you feel and what you need him to do. Try to genuinely remind and convince of yourself how good it is, that you want it. It’s fair to wait a while, your body needs to recover, but past a point you will be pushing him away. Remember he probably feels just as disingenuous giving a loving long massage after a candle light dinner after not having sex for 5 months as you will be having sex with a resentful husband, but before either of you can be back to normal you have to work at it. And trust me, very soon the resentful child will be gone and the man you actually want to love will be back!

  10. I want to offer another perspective. I’m a husband and father that works incredibly hard at my job and with my family. When I’m not at my job, I’m definitely a 110% parent and husband. Diapers, bottles, dishes, cleaning, or just refilling my wife’s ice water at 3am. I do these things, in part, as a way of expressing my love and affection by filling the needs she has. I don’t hang out with friends, or go out in any way, because that would mean her pulling a double shift. With our first child, I took over all duties on Wednesday nights and most of Sunday so that she could have a life outside of being a mommy. This, of course, means I don’t. What I need in return is love and affection in the form of sexual contact. I can be very flexible with that definition. In short, I do a lot of things that I don’t want to, that I don’t feel like doing, and I do it without making her feel guilty about it. But ask for sex and somehow; in part because of this article, I am being totally unreasonable. At this point it’s been over 3 years since we had anything that resembled a healthy sex life. That’s 9 months of pregnancy, 2 years of breastfeeding, 8 months of pregnancy, and now three months of breast feeding. Sex doesn’t have to be any one specific act, but at some point, denying your partner sexual affection will destroy your marriage. And somehow, I don’t think that breastfeeding is better for kids than a healthy 2 parent family unit. The bottom line is that men and women have different needs, and while it’s fine to take a break from sex while you get your bearings straight on your new life with kids, eventually, you need to get back on that horse, breast feeding or not.

    1. Heya dad, I hear that you’re frustrated with your situation and are craving connection with your partner. I highly recommend getting involved with the Becoming Dad Facebook page (the closed men’s only group) where you can get support and advice from other dads in the same situation. You might find some solutions, tools or even just an understanding ear (or a few!) of men in your situation.

  11. I have come across your article today and I can’t express how much it has helped me. I have a double struggle – I am still breastfeeding our baby who is 13 months and our 4th child, and struggling with Graves Disease, both known inhibitors of libido. My husband has actually been fantastic and my libido has finally returned along with my first menstrual cycle, but understanding why it has been absent has helped me enormously to understand and accept the months in between. Thank you so much.

  12. I have read every article I can find and nothing seems to fit how I feel. I love my husband so much. There is not another person in this world that I would want to be on this life journey with. I had our first and only daughter 18 months ago. Having her filled me with joy and filled a empty whole in my heart. My husband is a wonderful father and works so hard to provide for us. We both work full time jobs, I work day shift and he works nights. Anyways the problem is I have no sex drive! Nothing, not even a little. He tells me I’m beautiful, my extra weight makes me look better, he loves me, blah blah blah. The thought of having sex makes me want to puke at times. I feel like a horrible person for saying that but its true. After the baby goes to sleep he always tries to turn me on but I feel nothing and it annoys me. I usually give in once a week or so to please him but it does nothing for me. I know it hurts his feelings and ego when I turn him down. In my head and heart I want to have sex all the time with him but the touching and feeling of it I want nothing to with it. Before I got pregnant even while I was pregnant we had sex all the time at least once a day sometimes more. I just dont understand what is wrong with me?

  13. From a guys perspective, I completely identify with “Sexless Dad”. One thing that I can say has helped me scheduling sexual affection. I know that may sound completely unromantic but lets face it, its not going to be romantic no matter how we set the scene under these circumstances. You can negotiate on frequency but for me once a week has been ok.

    I know that my wife is not in the mood so penetrative sex could actually be painful even with lubricant which we have accepted. So I get some kind of oral sex which is great. To make it even better she sometimes blind folds me so that I don’t know what I’m getting and then she mixes it up a bit. Get creative, use ice, a new lubricant like tingle, etc…

    My wife is a champ in this regard and I really appreciate her effort. As a result I end up actually wanting to help more as I want to make her happy too. Maybe this will help someone out there.

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