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What Does Birth Control Actually Do To Your Sex Drive?

May 22, 2015 4 min read

Love your birth control? Hate it? What about your sex drive? You may have heard from your friends (or even experienced it first hand) that taking the pill has "kills your sex drive". So what's up with that?

According to the research, some women report a higher sex drive on the Pill, some report a lower sex drive and some, simply, stay the same.

Despite many studies on the subject, they've all ended up with conflicting results. Some find a correlation between birth control and low libido for some women (but not all), while others find no significant link. Other studies find that some women report a higher sex drive on the Pill or no change at all. So - not helpful.

That being said, the review on most studies actually shows only about 15% of women noticed a dip in libido while on birth control (sorry ladies). Even more frustrating? It’s not clear that birth control was actually causing the decrease in all of those cases, since there are a ton of other factors that come into play with sexual arousal and desire. But obviously there are women who swear up and down that the Pill has destroyed their sex drive, so what’s going on here?

So how does birth control affect us? 

Here's What Birth Control Actually Does To Your Sex Drive

Not to mention the estrogen in birth control can increase sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which binds testosterone so that there’s less of it circulating in the body. A 2006 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that birth control pill users had four times the amount of SHBG than women who had never used the Pill.

Finally, shutting down ovulation means you won’t get those mid-cycle spikes in testosterone that cause women to want to do-the-deed on overtime when they’re ovulating. Instead, birth control makes your hormone levels stay relatively stable all month long. Not everyone feels those spikes throughout their cycle to begin with, however, if you used to be sex-crazed around ovulation before you started birth control, you might miss that once you’re on it.
And birth control can also make it harder to get wet.

Being on a low-dose birth control method can make lubrication very difficult, for some women. While that’s not necessarily a sign of low libido, it’s hard to get turned on when it feels like the Sahara in your pants.

Before you flush your birth control, keep these two things in mind:

1. Libido is really hard to measure. It’s important to note that everyone might have their own definition of what “low libido” means to them. Is it being totally put off by sex? Or that you don’t want to spontaneously jump your spouse anymore? This is also why it's so hard to pin down the exact effects birth control could have on your desire.

2. Your libido is impacted significantly more than just testosterone. Think about all the factors that make up your sex drive: emotions, physiological responses, relationship status, comfort with your partner, body image, stress level, attitudes about intimacy - to name a few. Sure, most women will have lower testosterone levels on the Pill, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely feel a loss of desire. Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 9.33.01 AM

If you are one of the women on birth control and your sex drive just isn’t what it used to be, try this:

1. Consider any other factors that might be playing a role.

It can be anything from lack of romance in a relationship to medication you're taking. Before you burn your baby protection, look at all of the factors.

2. Consider switching to another pill that works better with your body.

Just like our body doesn't like certain foods or drinks, certain pills are known to be a little harder on certain libidos than others based on which type of synthetic progestin they contain. Ask your doctor to investigate a little more based on your needs.

3. Consider switching to an IUD, especially the copper one.

The copper IUD is hormone-free, so it shouldn’t have any effect on your sex drive. The hormonal IUD would also be a pretty safe bet, since it doesn’t actually shut down ovulation and the amount of synthetic progestin that gets absorbed into your bloodstream would be smaller. Of course, there are always condoms too.

4. Consider lube.
Here's What Birth Control Actually Does To Your Sex Drive

If dryness is your issue, keep in mind that lubrication and desire don’t always go hand in hand.

Bottom line: If your sex drive isn’t what it used to be - it might not be your birth control’s fault.

Here's What Birth Control Actually Does To Your Sex Drive

But you should absolutely have that conversation with your doctor and find out what your options are!

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