Can breastfeeding women have menopause-like symptoms?
After giving birth, a woman's estrogen levels drop to lower than usual levels, and while they return to the normal range relatively quickly among women who are not breastfeeding, this hypoestrogenic state may continue in lactating women and cause menopause-like symptoms. The results of a new study comparing vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and mood changes in women who are or are not breastfeeding 3 and 6 weeks after giving birth are reported in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
The article "Application of the Estrogen Threshold Hypothesis to the Physiologic Hypoestrogenemia of Lactation" provides evidence of the impact of breastfeeding on symptoms related to low estrogen levels during the postpartum period.
Whereas lactating women showed no differences in the prevalence of hot flashes than non-breastfeeding women, they were significantly more likely to have vaginal dryness, report coauthors Sanjay Agarwal, MD, (University of California, San Diego School of Medicine), Julie Kim, MD (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA), Lisa Korst, MD, PhD (Childbirth Research Associates, North Hollywood, CA), and Claude Hughes, MD, PhD (Quintiles, Inc., Morrisville, NC).