Please note: This archive was last updated in 2005.

RHO archives : Topics : Contraceptive Methods

Lactational Amenorrhea Method

Overview

Lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) is a natural family planning method that can be used by breastfeeding women. Breastfeeding-induced birth spacing has been practiced throughout history, and the health benefits of breastfeeding to both mothers and infants are well documented. It is only more recently, however, that the use of breastfeeding as a temporary family planning method has been documented and guidelines for its effective use have been developed. LAM is a very effective method if the following three criteria are met: (1) the woman is amenorrheic, (2) the woman is fully breastfeeding (does not give the infant supplementary food), and (3) the baby is less than six months old.

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Characteristics of LAM

Effectiveness

98-99% during the first 6 months after childbirth in fully breastfeeding women.

Age limitations

No restrictions.

Parity limitations

No restrictions.

Mode of action

Suppresses ovulation (release of eggs from ovaries).

Effect on STI risk

Not protective.

Drug interaction

None.

Duration of use

Commonly used for the first six months after childbirth; some women continue for up to one year or longer, although effectiveness varies.

Return to fertility

Immediate; once any of the LAM criteria are not met, a woman should use an additional method of contraception as she may be at risk of pregnancy.

For more information on LAM, please visit the Annotated Bibliography section and the Links section on Contraceptive methods.

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