Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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No period while nursing

17 February, 2008

Question:

I got my period when my baby was about 6 weeks old. I did ask about it and explained it to a woman who knows this kind of stuff and she did verify that it was a period.
When I was due to get another period, I stained a drop instead. It's 2 months later now and I still have not gotten another period – I did stain again a tiny bit one other time.
I took pregnancy tests and they all came out negative.
What is the story here? Is this normal for people who are nursing? Can I still be pregnant even though the tests all came out negative? I'm fully nursing without any supplements.
Thank you!


Answer:

Breastfeeding causes hormonal changes which generally suppress ovulation, leading either to amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), or to irregular bleeding.  Amenorrhea while breastfeeding is even discussed in the Talmud. 

The point at which regular ovulation, menstruation, and fertility resume varies from woman to woman. Therefore, it is quite common for women who are breastfeeding to have the kind of on and off staining you are describing. Whether or not staining makes you niddah depends on many factors.  Please see our article on Stains for more details.

Although a pregnancy cannot be entirely ruled out, it is much more likely that your amenorrhea is related to your breastfeeding (as above).  Research demonstrates that, for up to six months postpartum, women who breastfeed exclusively or almost exclusively and who have not resumed menses have less than a 1% chance of becoming pregnant.


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