The hormonal birth control pill comes with several real risks that make it a poor choice for some women, but new research revealed that it's probably not doing anything harmful to your sex drive. The recent study, published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine, says it’s not the pill, but rather the context that the pill is taken in that leads to decreases in sexual drive.
The study determined that hormonal birth control is a more common choice for women in long-term monogamous relationships, and it's this factor, not the actual birth control, that may be affecting women’s sexual drive. When the researchers compared the sex drives of women on birth control and took into account their relationship length and age, there were no statistical differences to be found.
"Sometimes women are looking for something to explain changes in their sexual desire, which is not fixed throughout her life," explained Dr. Kristen Mark, one of the researchers involved in the study, in a recent statement. "By continuing to unravel the mysteries behind the inaccurate anecdotes out there, I hope we can help women understand – and address – changes in their sexual desire."
For the study, the team looked at how oral hormonal contraceptives, other hormonal contraceptives, and non-hormonal contraceptives affected the sexual desire of couples in heterosexual relationships of varying lengths. They measured the sex drive of more than 900 women, both together with their male partners and alone with a tool called the Sexual Desire Inventory. Although at first they found that women on non-hormonal contraceptives reported higher desire on their own and women on oral contraceptives reported higher desire with their partner, they soon found when other factors were accounted for, this difference disappeared.
So, if the pill isn’t spoiling women’s sex drive, what is? According to the Mayo Clinic, it could be due to a number of factors such as anxiety, stress, or even poor self esteem. Women also report drops in sex drive during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Thankfully, these drops in sex drive do not seem to last, and treating the underlying problem and talking out issues with your partner can help things return to how they once were.
Source: Mark KP, Leistner CE, Garcia JR. Impact of Contraceptive Type on Sexual Desire of Women and of Men Partnered to Contraceptive Users. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2016