While the pill has had a wondrous effect on women’s freedom to choose when and if they want children, some forms of birth control have been known to reduce libido. It’s important to remember that reduced libido is completely normal and you can always switch contraceptives if you don’t like how you feel.
1. Talk to Your Gynecologist
The birth control pill has had a wondrous impact on women’s lives, but it can have some unexpected side effects. One of the biggest ones is a change in libido. If your sex drive went down when you started taking the pill, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can recommend other forms of birth control that might be less likely to affect libido, or help you switch your current pills if that’s what it takes.
Most hormone-based birth control pills use a combination of synthetic estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. These pills typically increase a protein called SHBG, which binds to testosterone (the libido-boosting hormone) and makes it inactive. During a podcast episode, comedian Whitney Cummings and actress Rachel Bilson discussed their experiences with low libido while on the pill and revealed that it was only after they stopped taking hormonal birth control that they noticed a real boost in their desire.
Some women who get a boost in sex drive while on birth control have used longer-term forms of birth control, such as an intrauterine device (IUD) or implant. Research has shown that a levonorgestrel-releasing IUD like Mirena or a levonorgestrel-only IUD like Liletta can improve sexual desire. This is because these devices don’t require regular pill-taking and still work by making cervical mucus impassable to sperm and suppressing ovulation.
2. Switch Your Pills
If you think your birth control is zapping your libido, it could be time to switch pills. While existing research shows that most peeps using hormonal birth control don’t notice a change in their sexual drive, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. In general, the pill typically contains both synthetic estrogen and progestin, which make cervical mucus impenetrable to sperm and suppress ovulation. Those are pretty effective at preventing pregnancy, but they can also cause side effects like breakthrough bleeding and nausea, among others.
If your doc suggests you try a new pill, keep in mind that it may take a while for the new hormones to kick in and start working their magic. In the meantime, you’ll want to use a backup method of contraception like condoms.
For some people, changing their birth control could be all it takes to reignite their fire. However, if you’re still feeling low on desire, it’s worth connecting with a mental health professional for more insight. They can help you figure out if your lack of interest is related to your hormones or something else, and they can give you strategies for getting your sex life back on track.
3. Check Your Hormones
It’s totally normal to experience a dip in libido during certain times of the month, especially if you have a regular menstrual cycle. It could be due to hormonal birth control (especially the pill, patch or ring) lowering testosterone in your body. But it’s also possible that it could be something else.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be able to find the sex life that you want while on birth control — it just means you may have to take a little extra time and effort to make it happen. Besides, it’s important to remember that many factors can affect libido, and your birth control is only one of them.
Hormonal birth control methods can lower libido because they contain doses of estrogen and progesterone, which decrease the levels of testosterone and other androgen hormones. But it’s also worth noting that a lack of libido can be a sign of other health issues, like inflammation, thyroid problems or adrenal dysregulation.
That being said, if you notice a consistent lack of sexual desire while on birth control, it’s definitely a good idea to talk to your doctor about the issue. They can recommend a different type of pill or even talk to you about alternative methods that offer the same protection as your current one. They may even be able to help you with other issues you’re struggling with, like painful periods or endometriosis.
4. Change Your Lifestyle
Some people find that the birth control pill makes it harder for them to reach orgasm. But the reality is that sex drive is affected by many different factors, from diet to sleep habits to stress levels to previous trauma. So if you’re not getting orgasm and are worried about your birth control, don’t panic — there’s probably something else going on that you can address with a little trial-and-error.
If you’re noticing that you aren’t as excited about sex or that you’re having trouble reaching orgasm, it might be a good idea to try some lifestyle changes. You might be able to give yourself a libido boost by chatting up the partner you’re in sex with, trying new sexual activities, or working on improving communication skills. Depending on the severity of the problem, you might also want to consider switching to another form of birth control. Many women who experience low libido while on the pill report that taking longer-acting methods of birth control such as the copper IUD or Depo-Provera can boost their interest in sex, so this could be an option for you.
You might also be able to switch to a birth control pill that has more oestrogen than progesterone or use a different hormone-based method. Talk to your gynecologist and ask them to check your hormone levels to see what the problem might be.