Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-14-2018


Introduction. During lactation, breastfeeders report reduced sexual desire and sexual activity (Von Sydow, 1999). Yet research has not examined the direct impact of suckling on sexuality during lactation. This study looked at breastfeeders, immediately following breastfeeding and several hours later, to determine if the recency of infant suckling influences maternal sexuality. Sexual motivations were also compared between breastfeeders and other mothers. Methods. Mothers of infants between 2 and 7 months of age participated in the repeated measures study online. Participants were randomly assigned to the order of their sessions and participated 20 minutes after breastfeeding or 120 minutes after breastfeeding. Results. In breastfeeders, in-pair sexual desire was significantly lower 20 minutes after breastfeeding than 120 minutes after breastfeeding. Breastfeeders and all mothers in high quality current relationships also reported less extra-pair sexual desire and higher partner-connection sexual motivations than mothers in low quality current relationships. Conclusions. There is some support that the recency of breastfeeding and quality of the pair-bond may impact postpartum sexuality. This research suggests that recent breastfeeding reduces in-pair sexuality and that relationship quality may drive different sexual motivations. Future analyses should utilize greater experimental control on breastfeeding timing, examine hormonal correlates, and include a larger sample size.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Steven Gangestad

Second Committee Member

Marco Del Giudice

Third Committee Member

Melissa Emery Thompson

Fourth Committee Member

Geoffrey Miller




breastfeeding, lactation, sexuality

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Included in

Psychology Commons