Apr 1, 1993

Lactational infertility in family planning

Annals of Medicine
R V Short


The contraceptive effect of breast-feeding is the single most important determinant of human population growth rates in traditional societies without access to modern forms of contraception; lactational amenorrhoea is Nature's contraceptive. Even today, breast-feeding still prevents more pregnancies than all modern forms of contraception in many developing countries. Afferent neural inputs from the nipple pass via the spinal cord to the hypothalamus, where they cause a local release of beta endorphin. This acts to depress GnRH secretion, thereby inhibiting pituitary gonadotrophin secretion, ovarian follicular development, ovulation and menstruation. The hypothalamic beta endorphin release also inhibits dopamine production, resulting in increased pituitary prolactin secretion. The higher the suckling frequency, the more beta endorphin that is released and hence the longer the duration of lactational amenorrhoea. Lactational amenorrhoea can be relied up to give over 98% contraceptive protection to breast-feeding women in the first 6 months postpartum, regardless of their nutritional status or the time of first supplement introduction to the baby. This is because the first postpartum menstruation usually precedes the first ovulati...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Family Planning Programs
Specialty Type - Family Planning
Calloso-genital Dysplasia
Contraceptive Effect
Malignant Neoplasm of Spinal Cord
Lactational Amenorrhea
Pituitary Diseases

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