Oxytocin, Sexual Feelings, and Arousal During Breastfeeding

The Connection Between Sexuality, Arousal, and Breastfeeding
The hormones of breastfeeding are also involved in the other aspects of female sexuality.. Comstock/Getty Images

The Connection Between Sexuality and Breastfeeding

Female sexuality is complex with many interrelated factors contributing to sexual response. The hormones involved in your monthly period, orgasm, pregnancy, and childbirth are also involved with breastfeeding. The breasts play a significant role in sexuality and reproduction. While many women will not have any reactions or sensations when they are nursing, some women are more sensitive at their breasts and may experience sexual feelings as a normal part of breastfeeding.

Oxytocin And The Hormones Involved In Female Reproduction 

The hormones that regulate the female reproductive system include estrogen, progesterone, FSH, LH, GnRH, prolactin, and oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone released into the body during sexual activity, labor, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

What Does Oxytocin Do?  

  • Creates feelings of love, trust, and bonding with others.
  • Lowers your blood pressure.
  • Decreases stress and anxiety.
  • Promotes relaxation.
  • Raises body temperature.
  • Plays an important role in sexual arousal and orgasm.
  • Causes uterine contractions during orgasm, labor, and postpartum period.
  • Responsible for the let-down reflex and the release of breast milk.

The Role Of Oxytocin In Breastfeeding 

The hormone oxytocin plays a major role in breastfeeding. When your baby begins to breastfeed, oxytocin is released. The oxytocin stimulates your let-down reflex and allows your breast milk to flow out of your breasts to your baby.

Oxytocin is also considered the love hormone.  It is said to promote bonding between a mother and a child, and it is also associated with the peaceful, calming feelings that some women report during breastfeeding.

However, for some women the release of oxytocin during breastfeeding along with the stimulation at the breast, can bring about sexual feelings and sensations of arousal.

These feelings can be unexpected and confusing, but they are just a reaction to oxytocin. 

Accepting The Normal Functions Of The Human Body

It is perfectly normal to experience a wide range of feelings and sensations when you're breastfeeding. From exhaustion to peace and relaxation or even arousal, these are all natural responses to the hormones that are flooding your body.  

If you are one of the many women who experience these common sensations while you are nursing, you are not perverted, and there is nothing wrong with you. Many women feel ashamed and decide to stop breastfeeding because these feelings make them uncomfortable.  However, there is no need to feel guilty or ashamed, and you certainly do not have to wean your baby. If you can, try to accept that this is just one of the natural, normal responses to breastfeeding and your body's release of oxytocin.

Where To Find Support And Information

It may be difficult to discuss this issue, but by talking to your doctor or a lactation consultant you may gain a better understanding of why this is happening.

 Your health care provider can also offer you help and support to deal with what you're going through. With support and information, you may find it easier to accept these feelings and continue to breastfeed.  


Avery, M.D., Duckett, L., Frantzich, C.R. (2000). The Experience of Sexuality During Breastfeeding among Primiparous Women. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health. 45(3) 227-237.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

Polomeno, V. Sex and Breastfeeding: An Educational Perspective. J Perinat Educ. 1999; 8(1): 30-40.

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