When it comes to low libido, particularly in women, pinpointing the root cause is almost as tricky as finding a needle in a haystack. Around 27% of premenopausal women and close to 52% of menopausal women experience low sexual desire. Yet, low libido is blamed on medical conditions, prescription drugs, and lifestyle habits. So, what about the infamous pill? Can birth control be blamed for low libido? If their purpose is to alter our hormones, wouldn’t that result in a fragile libido?
The Pill Is Not the Issue
Don’t go tossing your birth control pill just yet. To date, there isn’t conclusive evidence that proves the myth that birth control leads to low libido. However, we do know that many oral contraceptives sometimes can have side effects that include mood changes, weight gain, and lower sex drive. That’s why some people believe birth control pills are directly linked to low libido.
Since 1982, the pill has been the preferred birth control method for many women. Not to mention, it has been the main subject of the study of over 44,000 research publications. The one thing they don’t investigate? The pill’s effect on women’s libido. Less than one percent of those studies looked at what happens to your desire when you’re on the pill.
What Science Says So Far
The reports on the effects of the pill on libido are somewhat mixed. While some research points to a decline in libido or other symptoms of sexual dysfunction, others cannot attribute these changes to the pill itself.
For example, one German study found that 37 percent of the women in the study experienced one sign of female sexual dysfunction. But then, another study reported that 22 percent of pill users experienced more desire, and only 15 percent showed less desire.
That last study coincides with another one that looked at studies between 1978 and 2011. Eventually, the research only found around 15 percent of women who reported lower libido while on the pill. While another 22 percent noticed no difference. What was more shocking was the fact that 62 percent said the opposite effects, feeling an increase in sex drive since going on the pill.
Another study initially found that women taking non-hormonal contraceptives reported stronger sexual desire on their own. But those on the pill found a stronger desire with their partner. However, when researchers factored in age and length of relationships, the effects with or without the pills were almost the same.
How the Pill Affects Your Hormones
The reason behind the popular myth around oral contraceptives lies in the way they interact with your hormones. Most birth control pills are high in estrogen and progestin. However, these types of pills can significantly lower your testosterone levels. Testosterone is responsible for boosting your libido.
However, most women who go on the pill still produce healthy levels of testosterone to avoid any side effects, such as low libido. The problem arises when someone already has low testosterone levels and introduces a drug that further inhibits the production of testosterone.
If you’re on a combination pill, consider checking your low testosterone levels to see if there’s a connection with your low libido symptoms.
How to Improve your Libido
Without a specific cause to attribute to your low libido, it can be challenging to find relief. If you struggle with desire, know that there are many ways to fight back and take control of your sexuality.
Understand the Desire
Most people link desire to inexplicable arousal that comes out of nowhere and makes you throw yourself at your partner. This is “spontaneous desire,” and not everyone experiences it. Most women experience what’s known as “responsive desire,” which means you react to something you see, hear, or experience. Know that both types of desires are valid.
Talk about It
Most of the time, we don’t have an honest conversation about libido with our partners. Be open and transparent about your struggles. If you notice that you’re more of a responsive type of person, mention this, and explain what this means for your intimacy.
Let them know that even though you’re not feeling it right now, you guys can see if, after kissing or caressing, you might get in the mood. But, be honest in letting them know that you might not feel it, but you’re willing to try.
Talk to Your Doctor
Many medical conditions, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, can be related to low libido. If you have a medical issue that’s affecting your libido, treating these firsts might make a difference. Additionally, your doctor can look at other potential factors affecting your sexual desire.
Sometimes the smallest things do make a world of difference. If you have side effects such as vaginal dryness, which can result in painful sex, finding the right lube can help. Find different sexual positions that give you more comfort and pleasure. Keep experimenting with various sexual activities with your partner that doesn’t lead to intercourse.
Remember, having low libido doesn’t mean your sex life is over. As long as you’re proactive about it, open to exploring other options, and transparent with yourself, your partner, and your doctor, everything will be fine.