Estrogen and Lactation

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Why does my breast milk production lower during my period?

This is due to hormonal fluctuations. Once the period begins and hormone levels begin to return to normal, the milk supply will boost back up again.[1] Because levels of calcium in your blood decrease during menstruation and this has the potential to affect your milk supply, take a calcium and magnesium supplement if you notice a dip in supply.[2]


How does estrogen affect lactation?

High estrogen levels may arise from exposure to external sources of estrogen or estrogen-like chemicals. These may include hormone-replacement therapies, petrochemicals and solvents, which may be present in cleaning products, cosmetics, soaps and shampoos. Antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones present in commercially farmed animal products and produce may also contribute to high estrogen levels, because these products can disrupt natural changes in hormone balance. Other causes may include obesity or excess body fat, high fat intake, liver disease, high alcohol consumption, magnesium and vitamin B6 deficiencies, and stress.

As these high levels of estrogen mimic those of pregnancy, your body may continue to behave as though pregnant after your body's birth. As such, estrogen dominance may block prolactin's milk-producing abilities, potentially preventing you from lactating.

Regular exercise may help to lower your estrogen levels by lowering stress and body fat, potentially reducing complications that may arise when trying to lactate. Reducing your fat and alcohol intake, eating more foods rich in vitamin B6 and magnesium, and replacing commercially-produced food with organically farmed products may also help to reduce estrogen levels.[3]


Breastfeeding and Birth Control

Estrogen-containing contraceptives have been linked to low milk supply and a shorter duration of lactation. Progestin-only contraceptives are the preferred choice for lactating women when something hormonal is desired or necessary.

Progestin-only contraceptives come in several different forms:

If you’re interested in one of the longer lasting progestin-only forms of birth control (the Depo-Provera injection lasts at least 12 weeks, but effects may be seen up to a year; the progesterone-releasing IUDs and implant last 3-5 years), it is recommended that you do a trial of progestin-only pills (mini-pill) for a month or more before deciding on the longer-term form of birth control. If you find that you are among the women whose supply drops significantly due to progestin-only birth control, you can simply discontinue the pills – rather than struggling with low milk supply for several months until the injection wears off or you get the implant or IUD removed.[4]



More Information

Some couples practice ABF in order to strengthen their relationship. Read for yourself a few ANR testimonials and stories or watch videos of couples practicing adult breastfeeding. (warning:NSFW)

Reach out to others by using our ANR/ABF online communities list page to seek others who are in this lifestyle.

See the Inducing Lactation Resources page if you're interested in starting lactation without a pregnancy, for an ANR, or for your partner.


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Frequently Asked Questions
About Inducing Lactation


References

  1. Menstruation while Breastfeeding: Do I Have my Period? (Article assumes child breastfeeding; for adult breastfeeding similar principles apply) http://www.motherandchildhealth.com/breastfeeding/menstruation-while-breastfeeding
  2. Today's Parent: What to expect when you get your period while breastfeeding (Article assumes child breastfeeding; for adult breastfeeding similar principles apply) https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/what-to-expect-when-you-get-your-period-while-breastfeeding
  3. Livestrong: High Estrogen Levels while Breastfeeding https://www.livestrong.com/article/500552-high-estrogen-levels-while-breastfeeding
  4. KellyMom.com: Birth Control and Breastfeeding https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/meds/birthcontrol



Why does my breast milk production lower during my period? How does estrogen affect lactation?

This is due to hormonal fluctuations. Once the period begins and hormone levels begin to return to normal, the milk supply will boost back up again. Because levels of calcium in your blood decrease during menstruation and this has the potential to affect your milk supply, take a calcium and magnesium supplement if you notice a dip in supply. Regular exercise may help to lower your estrogen levels by lowering stress and body fat, potentially reducing complications that may arise when trying to lactate. Progestin-only contraceptives are the preferred choice for lactating women when something hormonal is desired or necessary.