Can Breastfeeding Prevent Pregnancy

Thinking of using the withdrawal method as a means of birth control? Think again for this method is unreliable and risky as I pointed out in my previous article.

Even if the man withdraws on time, he must make sure that every drop of semen is far away from the vagina as possible. That’s because a few drops of semen contain thousands of sperm. If one of them finds its way on the lips of the vagina, that could result in pregnancy.

Another point against the withdrawal method is that even if the man controls ejaculation, he may not feel the semen leaking out of his of penis prior to withdrawing. This is true especially when the sexual need is intense or sexual excitement is prolonged. Thus, pregnancy is a great possibility.

“Only about 50 percent of men ejaculate in one single burst; others expel semen sporadically or in a slow stream. Many men do not know exactly when they should withdraw, since there may have been a small ejaculation of semen prior to actual orgasm. Even a small ejaculation can contain millions of sperm, each one capable of fertilizing an ovum,” said Dr. Niels Lauersen, a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Steven Whitney in “It’s Your Body: A Woman’s Guide to Gynecology.”

What about breastfeeding? Can it really prevent pregnancy? The benefits of breastfeeding are well-known. Aside from being highly superior to infant formula, breast milk requires no special preparation, can be done anytime, and protects the child from infectious diseases. It also strengthens the physiological bond between the mother and infant.

But there’s more: Some women resort to breastfeeding as a means of birth control. This is true in countries where contraceptives are unavailable or in women whose religious beliefs prevent them from using pills or other family planning devices. Are these women on the right track? It all depends on how long they’ve been breastfeeding.

If breastfeeding is done regularly and frequently, it stops the release of a woman’s eggs and delays ovulation and menstruation. This effect is produced when the baby suckles at the breast and nipple. The act of suckling stimulates nerves in the mother’s breasts which interfere with ovulation. Therefore, the more you breastfeed, the less likely ovulation will occur.

“Regular breastfeeding does interfere with the release of a woman’s eggs. The infant’s stimulation of the nipple triggers increased production of prolactin, a chemical that suppresses the hormones necessary for menstruation and ovulation. No eggs, no pregnancy,” explained he editors of In Health magazine.

“For the first six months after giving birth, if a breastfeeding mother hasn’t resumed menstruation and the baby feeds often and only on mother’s milk, breastfeeding can provide pregnancy protection that rivals accepted contraceptive methods – close to 99 percent, according to one study,” In Health added.

There are, however, some problems associated with this method. If breastfeeding is prolonged or done for more than six months, ovulation could occur before menstruation starts. This means that a woman’s missed period could actually be a sign of pregnancy. Pregnancy is also a possibility in those who supplement breastfeeding with an infant formula.

Then there are side effects to worry about. Frequent breastfeeding for a long time can lead to hair loss, skin changes and hot flashes. It also increases the demand for calcium, iron and protein in the mother. (Next: Barrier methods of birth control.)

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