It’s ironic that when most doctors prescribe hormonal contraceptives for women, they don’t take the sexual side effects into account, even though presumably most heterosexual women are not taking the pill just to clear up their complexion (despite what birth control ads may tell you).
But despite the fact that in addition to preventing pregnancy, hormonal contraceptives reduce PMS and lessen the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer over a long period of time, they can also have a damaging effect on women’s sex drive. This is because most of these contraceptives contain both progestin and estrogen. Progestin can cause decreased vaginal lubrication, and unsurprisingly, delicate hormonal balances can be thrown off by increased estrogen.
According to Ricki Pollycove, writing for the Huffington Post, “Hormonal contraceptive-related effects can include lowered mood (depression) and decreased sexual fantasy, fewer sexy dreams, blunted physical responses to arousal and even delay or inhibit orgasm itself.”
So although hormonal contraceptives an incredible amount to liberate female sexuality by preventing pregnancy, it can also cause sexual dysfunction, which most women won’t connect to their birth control. It’s something important for women to consider and to discuss with their doctors. Luckily, there are a wide range of contraceptives for women to choose from (IUDs, pills with various combinations of hormones, patches, rings, and injectable contraceptives), and although we obviously shouldn’t change contraceptives on a whim, recognizing that this might be an issue is crucial to choosing the right birth control.
Photo from nateOne via flickr.