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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.
  • If no method of birth control is used, there’s about an 85% chance of getting pregnant after 1 year of having sex.
  • 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.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex (anal, oral, vaginal) to lower your risk of 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.

Did You Know?

  • You have the right to make the decision to have sex or not.
  • You can plan ahead and talk to your partner(s) about how to lower your risk of pregnancy, STIs, and HIV.
  • You can consider getting regular testing for STIs and HIV. Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Many clinics offer low or no cost birth control.

For More Information

  • Health Link – Health Advice 24/7: 811

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