It is estimated that 100 million women worldwide use oral contraceptives. Since the introduction of birth control pills in the 1960s, there have been many concerns raised about the long-term side effects and how contraception might alter a woman’s natural reproductive cycle. One major concern that has surfaced recently is whether contraceptives lower women’s natural sex drive.
In a new study on female sexual function published May 4, 2010 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, evidence was uncovered to support the claim that using contraceptives will alter a woman’s libido. Using questionnaires to assess sexual function of more than 1,000 female medical students in Germany, researchers found that women who used a hormonal method of birth control (mostly oral contraceptives) had lower levels of sexual desire than women who used non-hormonal methods such as condoms.
Biologically this study makes sense. Anita Clayton, a University of Virginia professor of psychiatry, argues that hormonal contraception has been shown to lower the level of available testosterone circulating in women’s blood, which is known to play a key role in a woman’s sexual desire.
Although this study had overwhelming results, there are a few weaknesses worth pointing out. One key flaw is that the participants of the study were only asked whether they were in a stable relationship and not how long they had been in the relationship. As most women know, sex drive, frequency and desire can fall when the relationship is no longer new. Additionally, the study was observational. The participants were not assigned various methods of hormonal and non-hormonal contraception. Instead, the participants were using birth control methods they had previously chosen.
We recommend asking your doctor if low-dose hormonal contraceptives could be right for you.
If you think your hormonal contraceptive is decreasing your sex drive, here are some natural remedies to increase your libido:
• Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
• Exercise 30 minutes each day
• Reconnect with your partner by touching, holding, kissing, or massaging one another