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Effect of birth control pills on women’s libido
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Effect of birth control pills on women’s libido

Many women experience lowered sexual desire when taking oral contraceptive pills, say experts

Oral contraceptives or birth control pills taken by women to prevent pregnancy can lead to altering hormone levels and loss of libido or reduced sexual desire in women. These medications, prevent women from ovulating (release of eggs from the ovaries) and block the sperm from fertilizing an egg by changing the lining of the uterus. Experts say that women notice changes in their libido which may have adverse effects on their intimate health.

“Multiple factors such as nature of work (whether physical or sedentary), personalities, stress levels, anxiety or depression, lifestyle choices or certain medicines affect libido or sexual drive in a person,” says Dr Nithin Kondapuram, neuropsychiatrist, and sexual wellness counselor, Aster Prime Hospital, Hyderabad. 

Overall, the libido results from an interplay of psychological, social, and physiological factors.

How do birth control pills affect the libido?

Women who take birth control pills that contain certain kinds of progestins experience decreased vaginal blood flow and lubrication and face issues with sexual desire compared to those who are not on these pills, according to a research article published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (2023).

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (2022), mentions about 8422 Egyptian women using progestin-only contraceptives, in which a significant general worsening in sexuality in terms of desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasm was reported.

Most birth control pills contain the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. “Many of these pills lower testosterone hormone which makes the women’s reproductive organs dry and less sensitive for intimacy, says Dr Shaik Habiba, obstetrician, gynecologist, and infertility specialist, Habiba Clinic, Bangalore.

Oral contraceptives may be advised by doctors in treating gynecological conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), says Dr Kondapuram. “Hormonal pills might increase the libido or sexual desire in women who have difficulty in achieving it,” he added.

However, if these pills are consumed when the stress levels are high, then women can see their libido go down significantly.

What can you do if your libido declines?

Libido is not just about hormones, but various factors that affect women like lifestyle and stress factors. Dr Habiba says that if an individual experiences a change in their sexual desire, they should consult a doctor.

Dr Kondapuram suggests that contraceptive pills are not the only solution and there are alternatives like implants which have a lesser impact on the libido. “This decision will depend on the doctor’s evaluation,” he said.

Takeaways

  1. A lot of psychological, social, and physiological factors may lead to decreased sexual desire in women.
  2. Experts advise evaluation of the root cause of the loss of libido or sexual drive in women to resolve it.
  3. Instead of contraceptive pills, implants could be better alternatives.
  4. Oral contraceptives or birth control pills taken by women to prevent pregnancy can lead to altering hormone levels

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