Vaginal Estrogen for Breastfeeding

Vaginal Estrogen for Breastfeeding

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Even after your OB or midwife gives you the green light, a nap might sound a hundred times more desirable than postpartum sex. After all, your body is healing, you’re probably sleep deprived, and suddenly you have a tiny new human with huge needs to care for.

While there are many reasons why you might not be in the mood for sex, a dry vagina from postpartum hormonal shifts certainly doesn’t help. We’re here to talk about what no one talks about—vaginal estrogen, the easy treatment that can help you glide back into a satisfying sex life.

The Link Between Breastfeeding and Vaginal Dryness

During pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, your body orchestrates amazing and intricate hormonal shifts. These keep you and your baby healthy, induce labor, promote breastfeeding and bonding, and more! While we appreciate that this is an amazing marvel of nature, the hormonal roller coaster can be disorienting and uncomfortable.

Breastfeeding in particular raises the levels of a protein called prolactin, which then goes on to increase milk supply in a very cool cycle that keeps your body making milk and your baby fed and healthy. The flip side of this is that increased prolactin suppresses estrogen production. This can make your vagina uncomfortably and even painfully dry. 

Whether or not you’ll experience vaginal dryness during breastfeeding largely depends on your personal chemistry. For some, the dryness becomes so painful that it keeps them from doing daily tasks. For others, the constant itching is a maddening distraction. Others feel fine overall, but find that vaginal dryness interferes with intimacy and puts a strain on their relationship. With all the life changes that come with a new baby, any chance you get to connect with your partner is precious. You deserve to take full advantage of this time without hormones getting in the way.

Vaginal Estrogen for Breastfeeding Discomfort

If you have postpartum vaginal dryness, there’s good news and … more good news! First, the condition isn’t permanent: Once you stop breastfeeding, your estrogen levels will gradually return to normal, and so will your moisture levels. If you are breastfeeding long term (say past a year) your estrogen levels will also normalize.

The other good news is that there are simple treatments for vaginal dryness while you are breastfeeding, and they don’t cost a fortune or have serious side effects. Low-dose vaginal estrogen can be very effective for postpartum dryness, and even women who are exclusively breastfeeding should see quick relief with no significant side effects. Plus, you don’t have to take it forever — after you stop breastfeeding you can stop using estrogen cream and let your own hormones take over.

Estrogen Cream and Your Milk Supply

Some women worry that using estrogen for vaginal dryness will affect their milk supply and they won’t have enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. The local estrogen that you get for vaginal dryness doesn’t carry this risk, though. Applying estrogen to the vagina rather than taking it orally means it gets absorbed differently by your body, so that most of the hormones stay in and around your vagina and don’t enter your bloodstream. This means that vaginal estrogen should not have any impact on your milk supply. 

On rare occasions, people have reported reduced milk supply after using vaginal estrogen cream, but this is very uncommon and reversible. If you start taking vaginal estrogen cream and find that your milk supply decreases, you can simply reduce the amount of cream you use or stop using it and your milk supply should return to normal. 

If you have vaginal dryness and pain during breastfeeding but are hesitant to start taking vaginal estrogen, we see your concern and know that you still deserve relief! We recommend that you start slow and use a very small amount, just near the opening of the vagina. You can always adjust your dose so that you find a balance where you get relief, feel safe, and can feed your baby the way you want to. 

You’re Doing Better Than You Think

Having and feeding a new baby is amazing and wonderful and can feel incredibly empowering. It can also completely overwhelm you and there will probably be moments when you feel like crawling into the crib and crying. We want to remind you that you are doing something incredible and miraculous and difficult, and you should cut yourself some slack! No one is perfect, but you’re doing a damn good job.

For many new parents, baby mode can mean that all their energy goes to taking care of the little one and they neglect their own health and wellness. Some even feel selfish when they prioritize their own needs, but remember that you’ll be a better mom if you are healthy and happy and feel fulfilled. Taking vaginal estrogen is a great way to take care of your body while you take care of your baby. 

Prioritizing your relationship during this time can also set you up for both personal happiness and parenting success. If breastfeeding makes your vagina dry, vaginal estrogen can help you keep your sexual connection thriving. Many people find that sex and intimacy coaching gives their partnership a deeper sense of appreciation and connection which is crucially important after having a baby.

We’re here for you, you’ve got this, and you’re doing better than you think.