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Hormone regulation after BFing

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I am actively weaning with the goal of starting an IVF cycle next month.  My question is, can nursing once a day affect my hormone levels and how long after I stop will they return to normal?  I know there are a LOT of "what ifs" because I haven't had bloodwork done to know what the levels are and how they compare to when Im not BFing. Just wondering if I should be concerned as we prepare to pay OOP for our 4th cycle.  My protocol begins with 3 weeks of BCPs so I intend to wean before starting the BCPs because I'm concerned about them passing into my milk.


post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 




post #3 of 7

There are many variable that affect the answer to that question. Some women have low levels of prolactin and return to their baseline hormone level while still breastfeeding regularly, others take months to return to "normal" after they stop breastfeeding. The meds they put you on for the IVF starting with birth control pills should override whatever your hormones are doing anyway. Hope that helps!

post #4 of 7

Nursing affects prolactin, which, in my opinion, and most medical opinions, (although many here dispute it), affects implantation.  Even once a day nursing can raise the levels.  I think it takes a couple or few months to return to normal levels after weaning.  If the level is too high and you've weaned, there is a medication you can take for a month to hopefully lower it.


Some IVF meds can pass through breastmilk.  Check each one.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  I have read that prolactin clears the blood quickly--but I don't know what "quickly" means.  

post #6 of 7

From what I understand, yes, nursing once a day affects prolactin levels. Twelve weeks is the expected window to get a period after weaning (if you haven't had one yet) and 6 weeks is usual, but it can take up to six months for prolactin levels to return to baseline after complete weaning. This is what my ob/gyn told me - I did extended bf (3 years) during which I never had a ppaf, so I asked a lot of questions! In my case, I had long suspected a problem (DS was going 12+ hours between feeds for the last year we nursed) and pushed for testing after 12 weeks, and it turned out I had a prolactinoma - a benign prolactin-secreting pituitary tumor. From my RE I have learned that some women will have regular cycles with the same prolactin levels that I had (moderately elevated), whereas I had complete amenorrhea. In other words, it is hard to guess your prolactin levels if you are cycling; they may still be elevated. If you have the opportunity and want to be reasonably unconcerned about prolactin, I would aim to wean 4-6 weeks before you start the protocol, but of course, ask your doctors' opinions. ETA: Whoops, just re-read your question and realized you may not have 4 weeks - I think it will still be okay because if you wean before starting the BCPs, you will have close to 4 weeks anyway, and the BCPs may help in that prolactin suppresses estrogen. Can you request prolactin b/w after you finish the BCPs? FYI, labs have quite different reference ranges for prolactin, so it's always worth asking what was used.


I agree with you, goldfinches. Btw, the meds you are referring to are either bromocriptine (Parlodel) or cabergoline (Dostinex).


ThankfulMama, hoping your upcoming IVF cycle goes well! I hope this will be helpful to you.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  ugh this is so stressful. . .  I have had my period for a year now and it is very regular.  I guess maybe I will just ask the REs office.  I'm just afraid that they will tell me I have to wait 4 months or something.  But it sounds like there may be a legitimate concern. . .

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