Testosterone use while Breastfeeding
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Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 15, 2020.
Testosterone Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Limited data indicate that a low-dose (100 mg) subcutaneous testosterone pellet given to a nursing mother appears not to increase milk testosterone levels markedly. Subcutaneous testosterone cypionate does increase milk testosterone levels. However, testosterone has low oral bioavailability because of extensive first-pass metabolism, so it appears to not increase serum testosterone levels in breastfed infants. Breastfed infants appear not to be adversely affected by maternal or transgender paternal testosterone therapy. High doses of testosterone can suppress lactation.
Maternal Levels. A woman received testosterone for depressive symptoms sublingually (drops, dose unspecified), vaginally (cream, dose unspecified), and subcutaneously (pellet, 100 mg). Foremilk samples were obtained at various times over the first 24 hours after administration of the sublingual and vaginal administration and on days 2, 3 and 7 after the implanting of the testosterone pellet. The highest milk level recorded following the pellet implantation was 101 ng/L on day 7. Testosterone levels in breastmilk were not increased above baseline with any of these preparations.
A transgender male began receiving subcutaneous testosterone cypionate 50 mcg weekly 13.75 months after giving birth. Milk samples were obtained at baseline, and 4, 14 and 28 days after the first dose. The milk total testosterone level was 4.62 mcg/L at baseline, 83.95 mcg/L at 4 days after the dose, 208.5 mcg/L at 14 days after the dose, and 123.6 mcg/L at 28 days after the dose.
Infant Levels. After implantation of a 100 mg pellet of testosterone subcutaneously in a postpartum woman, serum levels of testosterone in her breastfed infant (extent and age not stated) were <100 mcg/L on days 2, 3 and 7, and at 5 months after the implanting of the testosterone pellet.
A transgender male began testosterone in a standard dose (not stated) for female-to-male therapy 15 months after giving birth. He breastfed (chestfed) his infant (extent not stated) and at 21 months, the infant’s testosterone level was reportedly normal.
A transgender male began receiving subcutaneous testosterone cypionate 50 mcg weekly 13.75 months after giving birth. His infant was breastfed (chestfed; extent not stated). Infant total testosterone serum levels were undetectable (<70 mcg/L) at the start of therapy and 4, 14 and 28 days after initiation of therapy.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
An infant (age not stated) was breastfed (extent not stated) after implantation of 100 mg of testosterone subcutaneously. No adverse effects were noted in the infant over a 5-month period.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
Supraphysiologic serum levels of testosterone, either from a tumor[4,5] or from exogenously administered testosterone, reduces milk production in postpartum women. Testosterone alone reduces serum prolactin; however, when given in combination with estrogen and progestin, serum prolactin levels are not markedly reduced. Testosterone was previously used therapeutically to suppress lactation, usually in combination with an estrogen.[6-12]
Glaser RL, Newman M, Parsons M, et al. Safety of maternal testosterone therapy during breast feeding. Int J Pharm Compound. 2009;13:314–7. [PubMed: 23966521]
Oberhelman S, Chang A, Braith A, et al. Testosterone impacts on milk and infant in a lactating transgender individual, a case report. Breastfeed Med 2020;15:A-24. Abstract. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2020.29162.abstracts. [CrossRef]
MacDonald T, Noel-Weiss J, West D, et al. Transmasculine individuals' experiences with lactation, chestfeeding, and gender identity: A qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2016;16:106. [PMC free article: PMC4867534] [PubMed: 27183978]
Hoover KL, Barbalinardo LH, Platia MP. Delayed lactogenesis II secondary to gestational ovarian theca lutein cysts in two normal singleton pregnancies. J Hum Lact. 2002;18:264–8. [PubMed: 12192962]
Betzold CM, Hoover KL. Snyder. Delayed lactogenesis II: A comparison of four cases. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2004;49:132–7. [PubMed: 15010666]
Weinstein D, Ben-David M, Polishuk WZ. Serum prolactin and the suppression of lactation. Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1976;83:679–82. [PubMed: 788774]
Welti H, Paiva F, Felber JP. Prevention and interruption of postpartum lactation with bromocriptine (Parlodel) and effect on plasma prolactin, compared with a hormonal preparation (Ablacton). Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1979;9:35–9. [PubMed: 570523]
Schwartz DJ, Evans PC, García CR, et al. A clinical study of lactation suppression. Obstet Gynecol. 1973;42:599–606. [PubMed: 4582587]
Ng KH, Lee KH. Inhibition of postpartum lactation with single-dose drugs. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1972;12:59–61. [PubMed: 4502478]
Morris JA, Creasy RK, Hohe PT. Inhibition of puerperal lactation. Double-blind comparison of chlorotrianesene, testosterone enanthate with estradiol valerate and placebo. Obstet Gynecol. 1970;36:107–14. [PubMed: 4912251]
McNicol E, Struthers JO. A combined/oestrogen/progestogen/testosterone agent for the inhibition of lactation. Br J Clin Pract. 1972;26:567–8. [PubMed: 4567863]
Iliya FA, Safon L, O'Leary JA. Testosterone enanthate (180 mg.) and estradiol valerate (8 mg.) for suppression of lactation: A double-blind evaluation. Obstet Gynecol. 1966;27:643–5. [PubMed: 5949195]
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