Duke Health researchers publish study on hormone modification to enable lactation in transgender women

Duke researchers published a study on using hormone-modification technology to enable transgender women to lactate. 

The report, titled “Novel Lactation Induction Protocol for a Transgender Woman Wishing to Breastfeed: A Case Report,” was published on March 27 in the National Library of Medicine. It is the fifth report ever published on lactation for a transgender woman, but is the only one that used metoclopramide for lactation induction. 

Research was conducted by third-year medical student Esme Trahair, clinical pharmacist Sarah Kokosa, researcher Andy Weinhold, researcher Heather Parnell, Associate Professor of Medicine Carly Kelley and Andrea Dotson, assistant professor in family medicine and community health. 

The subject of the study, a 50-year-old anonymous transgender woman, began to receive gender-affirming hormone therapy in 2018 and sought to breastfeed her grandchild in 2022. 

According to the report, the woman’s “primary motivation for inducing lactation was to experience the bond from breastfeeding that she had not been able to experience with her own five children.” 

Within four weeks of beginning a modified hormone regimen, which included 10 mg of metoclopramide three times daily, the patient was able to lactate.

The woman reported producing breast milk over a period of two weeks, during which she breastfed her four-month-old granddaughter multiple times. 

Since breastfeeding the infant, the patient reported an emotional bond with her grandchild and female gender affirmation, as noted by her reports that breastfeeding “felt very different from formula feeding her other children; she stated she has a special bond with this baby for which she is grateful.”

The patient did not experience any side effects from the therapy. She said she wished she had known about this option earlier on, and hopes other transgender women can similarly realize their breastfeeding goals.

The report concluded by emphasizing the need for further research on lactation protocols for transgender individuals and a greater understanding of the priorities of transgender patients who wish to lactate.

The Chronicle requested an interview with an author of the study, who forwarded the request to the Duke Health News Office. The office did not respond for comment.

Madera Longstreet-Lipson profile
Madera Longstreet-Lipson

Madera Longstreet-Lipson is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.      


Share and discuss “Duke Health researchers publish study on hormone modification to enable lactation in transgender women” on social media.