Feeling less frisky lately? While many factors could contribute to a less-than-stellar sex drive, new research suggests that your birth control method could be to blame. Compared with women using non-hormonal contraception (like condoms), women taking hormonal birth control (like the Pill or the ring) experience lower sex drive and more discomfort during sex, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Researchers at Princeton and several other universities used an online survey to collect data on 1,101 women under age 51. Half of the women were using both hormonal and non-hormonal contraception (like the Pill and condoms), while half of them were using only the latter. Unfortunately, women using hormonal contraception reported less frequent sexual activity, arousal, pleasure, and orgasm in the previous month; plus, they had more difficulties with pain and dryness.
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Of course, this doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean you should toss all your birth control pills and opt for a condoms-only policy. Not all women taking the Pill have side effects like these. In fact, knowing you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get pregnant (thanks to trusty hormonal contraceptives) can be one of the biggest libido boosters, explains Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. For instance, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re nervous about getting pregnant and you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trust the love glove alone, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re probably going to be less excited about having sexÃ¢â‚¬”and less likely to enjoy it fully when you do.
As for why the hormones might be a bit of a mood-killer, Minkin says there is no definitive answer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nobody knows what the agent of libido is,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says, but testosterone likely plays a role. Birth control pills essentially shut down the ovaries for the time being, explains Minkin, but since ovaries produce testosterone (and testosterone is linked to desire, sex drive, and lubrication), this could be the cause of a sexual slump.
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But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important to note that this study found there was no difference in sexual satisfaction between users of hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptives. Plus, women in the first group were just as likely to initiate sex as women in the second group. The bottom line: Birth control may dampen desire for some women, but it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to have a huge effect on your overall sex life.
That said, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really having a hard time lighting your fireÃ¢â‚¬”or keeping it lit long enoughÃ¢â‚¬”Minkin suggests talking to your healthcare provider about possibly switching to another pill, perhaps one with levonorgestrel in it (a form of progestin that acts a bit like testosterone). When you talk to your doctor, keep in mind that birth control is only one of many medications that could impact your libido (for instance, some antidepressants may impact sex drive) and there could be a host of other reasons why you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to have sex. In the meantime, try these 14 sexy tricks to boost your libido.
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