Ten-Year Systematic Review of Sexuality and Breastfeeding in Medicine, Psychology, and Gender Studies.

Author ORCiD Identifier

Spatz: 0000-0001-7316-6616

Publication Title

Nursing for Women's Health

Document Type


PubMed ID



OBJECTIVE: To shed light on the current literature surrounding sexuality and breastfeeding from several domains (gender studies, psychology, and medicine), providing a discourse for discussions of sexuality, breastfeeding, and their interface while acknowledging the intersections of race and sexual orientation.

DATA SOURCES: A systematic search of the literature was conducted using search terms breastfeeding and sexual activity with the electronic databases PubMed, PsycINFO, and GenderWatch.

STUDY SELECTION: Eligible studies were in English and were published from January 2008 through March 2019. The search resulted in 171 articles, and an additional article was identified by an expert in the field; 12 were used for review. Exclusion criteria included articles that were focused on a specific culture, feminist theory, HIV/disease transmission, historical perspective, mode of child birth, and education. Only articles that discussed relationships between breastfeeding and sexuality were included. The 12 remaining articles were compared on the basis of purpose, design, sample and setting, and results and implications.

DATA EXTRACTION: One author extracted the data from the full-text articles and organized them into a table of evidence. Because study design and outcome measures varied, the data were synthesized narratively.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Themes that emerged from the synthesis were Breastfeeding influences one's relationship with their body and identity; When breasts are perceived as sexual, appearance influences breastfeeding decisions; and People have a concern with embarrassment, discomfort in public, and potential sexual implications of breastfeeding.

CONCLUSION: Clinicians should initiate conversations aimed at normalizing the coexistence of the characteristics of sexuality and nurturing in parents, potentially using the Sexual Perceptions of Breastfeeding Scale as a guide, while providing information about the potential for breastfeeding-related sexual dysfunction and its remedies.


Breast Feeding, Female, Humans, Male, Parents, Sexual Behavior, Sexual and Gender Minorities, Sexuality, Social Perception



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