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Sexual and Reproductive Health

Lactation amenorrhea method (LAM)

What is the lactation amenorrhea method (LAM)?

Lactation amenorrhea method (LAM) is a way for breastfeeding to temporarily help prevent pregnancy. It must be used correctly to work. Lactation means your body is making breastmilk and amenorrhea means you aren’t having a monthly period. Breastfeeding hormones may stop your body from releasing eggs. You can’t get pregnant if you don’t release an egg.

How well does LAM work?

  • You can get pregnant as early as one month after having a baby, when not using LAM or another method of birth control.
  • With perfect use (you follow the exact directions all the time) LAM is 98% effective against pregnancy for the first 6 months after giving birth.
  • Think about getting emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy if you've not followed LAM correctly and you've had unprotected sex in the last 5 days.
  • LAM doesn't protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.​

When can I use LAM as birth control?

LAM only works if your:

  • baby is under 6 months old and
  • baby is fully breastfed (baby gets no other liquid or food, not even water) or nearly-fully breastfed (baby gets vitamins, water, or other fluids or nutrients once in a while and they do not disrupt the frequency of feedings) and
  • period has not returned. This means you have not had vaginal bleeding for 2 or more days in a row (not counting bleeding during the first 2 months after giving birth)

LAM does not work if you don’t have all 3 things above. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if LAM is right for you.

What are the benefits of LAM?

  • It can work for up to 6 months after birth.
  • It is effective right away.
  • There are no added hormones that can affect your breastmilk.
  • There is no cost and no birth control supplies are needed.
  • Breastfeeding has many other health benefits for you and your baby.

What are the disadvantages of LAM?

  • It may be difficult for some to fully or nearly-fully breastfeed.
  • Fertility can return quickly if breastfeeding is reduced.
  • It’s only effective for up to 6 months after you have your baby.
  • If LAM is not used correctly there is a higher risk of failure from even one act of vaginal sex. 

What else is important to know about consent, sexual activity, and birth control?

  • You have the right to decide to have sex or not. Talk with your partner or partners about consent.
  • There’s an 85% chance of becoming pregnant within one year, if no birth control is used for vaginal sex.
  • Use a condom or barrier every time you have sex (oral, vaginal, anal). Condoms help prevent pregnancy, STIs, and HIV.
  • You can lower your risk of HIV by taking an HIV prevention pill every day. Many Albertans can get it for free. Visit HIV PrEP to find out more.
  • Transgender and gender diverse people who have a uterus can use hormonal birth control. It can help prevent pregnancy and make periods lighter and less painful.

Where can I find more information?

If you have questions, need to find a sexual health clinic near you, or want more information, call Health Link at 811 anytime, day or night, to talk to a registered nurse.

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