Gillian Goddard

2 min Read Gillian Goddard

Gillian Goddard

Should I Be Worried That My Period Has Not Returned After Weaning?

Q&A on cycles

Gillian Goddard

2 min Read

I am 40 years old and stopped breastfeeding my EBF [exclusively breastfed] then-13-month-old three months ago. I have had no period (or any bleeding except for postpartum) since getting pregnant with her. We do not want more children, so I am not planning to try for another pregnancy. Should I be concerned about my apparent lack of ovulation? If so, when and why should I seek medical advice?

—Rachel

When women are breastfeeding, it is not unusual for them to have irregular periods or no periods at all. I think this is fascinating! The act of nursing actually suppresses the release of hormones that drive ovulation. So eggs can begin to develop but do not fully mature, and estrogen levels often remain low, during breastfeeding.

Some women will have their menstrual cycle resume when they stop breastfeeding at night, but others will see their menstrual cycle resume only when they have fully weaned. How long it takes to resume a normal menstrual cycle once you have weaned is highly variable. 

Person looking at watch
Meruyert Gonullu / Pexels

However, three months after weaning, it would be reasonable to see your doctor for an evaluation. Women who are under age 45 should always be evaluated if they aren’t having regular periods. 

Age 40 is considered too early for normal menopause, and there are several possible reasons you aren’t getting a period. First your doctor will confirm you aren’t pregnant. It is possible to become pregnant before your periods resume if you ovulate the first time and then get pregnant. 

Your doctor may order blood tests to check your follicle-stimulating hormone — the hormone that stimulates eggs to mature — and your levels of the hormone prolactin — the hormone that stimulates the breasts to make milk. They may also send you for a sonogram of your ovaries and uterus to help understand why your periods haven’t resumed and recommend appropriate treatment. 

The bottom line: Three months after weaning, we would expect your periods to have resumed, and any woman under age 45 should be evaluated if she is not having regular periods.

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Milestones. We celebrate them in pregnancy, in parenting, and they’re a fun thing to celebrate at work too. Just a couple years ago I couldn’t have foreseen what this community would grow into. Today, there are over 400,000 of you here—asking questions, making others feel seen wherever they may be in their journey, and sharing information that supports data > panic. 

It has been a busy summer for the team at ParentData. I’d love to take a moment here to celebrate the 400k milestone. As I’ve said before, it’s more important than ever to put good data in the hands of parents. 

Share this post with a friend who could use a little more data, and a little less parenting overwhelm. 

📷 Me and my oldest, collaborating on “Expecting Better”

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It has been a busy summer for the team at ParentData. I’d love to take a moment here to celebrate the 400k milestone. As I’ve said before, it’s more important than ever to put good data in the hands of parents.

Share this post with a friend who could use a little more data, and a little less parenting overwhelm.

📷 Me and my oldest, collaborating on “Expecting Better”
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✈️ A JAMA Pediatrics paper estimates about 0.4 child air crash deaths per year might be prevented in the U.S. with car seats
✈️ Cars are far more dangerous than airplanes! The same JAMA paper suggests that if 5% to 10% of families switched to driving, then we would expect more total deaths as a result of this policy.

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Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

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