June 11th to the 17th is National Men’s Health Week, so men take center stage at this month’s b5media Science and Health Theme Day hosted by Gloria at Cancer Commentary. It’s a bit hard for a breastfeeding blog to participate in a theme day about Men’s Health (unless men want to hear about all the benefits they received as a breastfed baby) so I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about men’s sexual health and answer some burning questions men may have about breastfeeding, sex and breast milk fetishes.
How does breastfeeding affect my wife’s sex drive?
Any new mother whether breastfeeding or not needs time to heal from giving birth. Even after a woman gets cleared by her doctor to resume sexual relations, she may not be ready to do so. Having a new baby is a huge adjustment, both on a mother and on a marriage.
As to whether the breastfeeding mother has more or less sex drive than the bottle-feeding mother, the jury is out. The Breastfeeding Answer Book reports:
Masters and Johnson (1966) say that breastfeeding mothers are more comfortable with their own sexuality and therefore are more anxious to resume sexual relations with their husbands than are their formula-feeding counterparts.
Recent research is mixed. Some studies indicate that breastfeeding mothers are less interested in sex after childbirth (Byrd 1988; Glazener 1997; Visness and Kennedy 1997) while other studies conclude that breastfeeding mothers are more sexually active than their formula-feeding counterparts (Al Bustan 1995).
At any rate, breastfeeding mothers may need a little more foreplay and assistance. When estrogen levels are low, some women may experience vaginal dryness. That’s when extra loving attention and a water-based lubricant such as K-Y Jelly can help.
Those early months can leave any mother feeling tired, emotionally drained and “all touched out.” A husband can help his wife get in the mood by speaking her “love language.” In his book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, Dr. Gary Chapman identified five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. The idea is that to create a happy marriage, spouses need to show each other their love by speaking their partner’s language.
For example, a husband who performs Acts of Service for his wife such as making dinner one night, taking the baby in the morning so his wife can sleep in, or tidying the house is more likely to have a loving wife who speaks his love language of Physical Touch. Get the idea?
My wife’s breasts squirt milk during sex. Is this common?
For some women, the hormones released during sexual intercourse trigger let-down of the milk. This certainly is not the case for all women. I’ve never had it happen but I have friends who experienced it. Luckily their husbands did not mind and just laughed it off!
To diminish the possibility, a mother can breastfeed the baby or express some milk beforehand. If she does leak anyway, she can keep a towel at the ready and apply pressure to the nipples to stop the milk flow.
Is breastfeeding a sexual act?
No, breastfeeding is not sexual. It could be described as sensory, but not sexual.
But I’ve heard some women have an orgasm while breastfeeding. Is that true?
I like what One Hot Mama has to say on this subject:
As for the physical, just like in sex, some people feel every feeling quite intensely, others hardly at all. The erogenous zones are, like our faces and personalities, unique. So some women do feel stimulated, while I, for example, feel, well, nothing. (Perhaps I should speak to my doctor). Here’s what my favourite breastfeeding expert, author Janet Tamaro [her book is So That's What They're For!] has to say about having, say, an orgasm while nursing: “Don’t panic … Your brain has just secreted a hormone that is telling your body to feel good. This does not make you a child molester, and it doesn’t make breastfeeding immoral. … It’s not that likely, so try not to worry about it or let it stand in the way of a comfortable breastfeeding relationship with your baby.” In other words, take that good feeling, and use it on your partner.
I’m curious what breast milk tastes like. Can I try some?
If your wife is willing, sure! You can taste it straight from the source (as Chandler said, the packaging certainly appeals to adults!) or from a cup. It tastes sweet and a whole heck of a lot better than artificial milk. Don’t take my word for it though–read what this Penn State professor had to say!
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between a healthy curiosity about breast milk and an obsession with it. Since starting Breastfeeding 1-2-3 last year, I’ve come to learn that there are men out there with breast milk fetishes. If you don’t have a partner willing to share some breast milk, you’re sorry out of luck. Don’t try harassing a breastfeeding counselor or a milk bank for some (seriously, you will have the police show up on your doorstep). There are ways to buy milk on-line, but beware that buying milk on-line comes with inherent risks for your health. Unpasteurized breast milk can transmit HIV, syphilis and hepatitis A and B among other things.
There are legitimate reasons for adults to consume breast milk. Some cancer patients drink breast milk to boost their immune systems and reduce the effects of chemotherapy. That’s not just some wacky, far-out idea either. Scientific evidence supports the promising anti-cancer powers of breast milk.
Feel free to share your (G-rated) experience in the comments. Moms, has breastfeeding affected your sex drive? Dads, has breastfeeding (and any attendant increase in bust size) changed how you feel about your wife? Also, please take a moment to vote in the poll in the side bar.