Sexuality & breastfeeding: what do you know?

MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. Jul-Aug 2009;34(4):218-23. doi: 10.1097/


Sexual functioning in the postpartum period has been examined in the literature, but does not seem to be commonly discussed among practitioners. Clinicians involved in the care of pregnant and postpartum women may be unaware of how childbirth and breastfeeding influence sexual health; this could leave patients uninformed about potential changes that could affect their sexual functioning post-delivery. There is evidence that breastfeeding specifically elicits changes in sexuality. With the increased emphasis on breastfeeding in hospitals and society, all nurses should have a basic understanding about sexuality, and should provide teaching about this to their patients. This review discusses major sexual changes associated with breastfeeding, including specific hormonal and physical changes, as well as strategies for discussing issues of sexuality with patients. Examples are provided to help nurses initiate discussion about sexuality, breastfeeding, and sexual changes during the postpartum period.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Postpartum Period / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology*
  • Sexuality / physiology*