Does birth control affect a woman’s sex drive?
Research shows that while some women report a lesser desire for sex after going on birth control, other report no difference. There have indeed been many studies trying to find the possible effects of birth control treatments on a woman’s sexual appetite, with conflicting conclusions. Science cannot yet prove a direct connection.
A 2013 review in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care that compared 36 relevant studies conducted between 1978 and 2011 showed that only 15% of women in those studies reported a change in libido during birth control. What’s more, it’s not conclusive that the change experienced was a result of the treatment, or an extenuating factor.
Research aside, in everyday life, many women seem to believe that birth control affects their appetite for sex. What else could be playing a role in this experience?
Hormonal Birth Control
Many birth control treatments work by releasing hormones which inhibit pregnancy and stop the process of ovulation. While this chemical change in the ovaries prevents pregnancy, it also plays with your body’s levels of testosterone, also regulated by the ovaries.
Birth control methods like the pill, patch and implant also contain estrogen, affecting testosterone levels. All of these hormonal changes could be at play behind a noticeable difference in sex drive.
Furthermore, shutting down the ovulation process stops the testosterone spikes that occur during a woman’s monthly cycle, which have been linked to feelings of sexual desire.
If you often felt extra-sexy around ovulation time before starting birth control, you might notice a change after the hormone regulation that goes along with it.
Some women on low-dose birth control can experience increased vaginal dryness, which can in turn lead to pain during intercourse and a reduced desire for sex. Commercially available lubrication gels can easily solve this issue.
Before stopping your birth control, always consult a doctor and remember that libido is very hard to measure because of its subjectivity. In addition, there are many factors in the human body and mind that can affect one’s libido and appetite for sex, completely independent of anything related to a birth control regimen. If you find that your libido has taken a nose dive, you might want to consider some of the possible factors, like any antidepressant medicines, stress, and anxiety.
Your doctor can recommend an alternative birth control method which might have a lesser affect on your libido. The various drugs out there can differ quite a bit. Yaz and Yasmin contain drospirenone, which has a strong effect on testosterone, while pills like Lybrel and Lutera contain levonorgestrel, which mimics testosterone and might have less of an effect. Changing medicines in a trial & error manner could solve your problem and still keep you out of pregnancy’s way.