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Breastfeeders Raise Your Libido

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Could being around other breastfeeders make you want to get it on?

Woman breastfeeding baby

Dr. Wendy Walsh: When I was giving birth to my first child, at a very pro-breastfeeding hospital, the labor nurse assigned to my moans told me that she had been through labor seven times. She had actually been pregnant ten times, counting the miscarriages. I was astounded by this woman's stamina in this day and age, and dismissed her life choice as a hazard of being "in the business." I mean, I also have a friend who creates packaging for cosmetic companies, and as a result, her bathroom is brimming with baskets of products. No different from this woman's baskets of babies, I thought. Until I ran across this fascinating headline:

SMELLS ASSOCIATED WITH BREASTFEEDING ARE A NATURAL APHRODISIAC, HEIGHTENING AROUSAL IN OTHER WOMEN

I immediately clicked through to read more about this interesting study. I had worried it was a hoax put out by new fathers trying to get their guy friends laid. But it was for real. Martha McClintock and her team of psychologists at The University of Chicago did a double blind study, where pads soaked in sweat and breast milk were wiped on the upper lips of a study group every day (including after washing or eating) for three months. A control group unknowingly used a dummy wipe. And guess what? Those who had the real-deal, sweat-soaked pads found that their desire for their partner had risen by 42 percent. Single women in the study reported an increase in sexual day dreams.

The researchers hope this groundbreaking data will help them develop treatments for a low sex drive in women. Unlike men, whose sexual dysfunction is most often impotence that can be treated with Viagra, women's sexual dysfunction is more often related to low desire. And this has been very, very difficult to treat.

Pheromones are the key ingredient, according to this study. They are defined as natural compounds produced by one member of a social group that can regulate neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying behavior, fertility, or development in ANOTHER group. In plain speak, that means that people's subtle or strong smells can change behavior in other people.

Let's think about why the sexy smells of breastfeeding moms might have been anthropologically selected for in our evolution. First, in a peer group of young women, these pheromones would have signaled to their own bodies that it was time to reproduce, and that they were in an environment where food was plentiful. And human infants have always survived better when caregiving is shared, so having babies with friends was historically a good survival strategy. The modern-day version of this is the evolution of mommy and me baby groups.

It all makes sense to me -- and what a fun bonus to a modern woman who uses birth control. So, have I ever mentioned that I give talks on mother-infant attachment and would LOVE to come to your breastfeeding support group? Just saying.


next: David Letterman's Wife Demanded Public Apology
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