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Birth Control Pills Can Have Sexual Side Effects

Birth Control Pills Can Have Sexual Side Effects

Birth control pills – also known as oral contraceptives – are an effective, convenient method for preventing pregnancy. But for some women, “the pill” can have sexual side effects.

Oral contraceptives use hormones that alter a woman’s menstrual cycle, usually by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg). These hormones may make it more difficult for sperm cells to travel past the cervix. If an egg does become fertilized, the hormones can change the lining of the uterus so that an embryo is less likely to develop.

Decreased sexual desire and problems with arousal are two of the most common sexual side effects of birth control pills. Women may experience vaginal dryness, which often leads to painful intercourse. They may have orgasms less often or find that their orgasms aren’t as intense as they used to be.

If you’re having sexual problems that you think might be linked to the pill, talk to your gynecologist. Oral contraceptives come in different formulations, and sometimes changing the pill type resolves the issue. If it doesn’t, you might consider using other forms of contraception, such as condoms or an IUD. If vaginal dryness is bothersome, using a lubricant can help.

Keep in mind that other factors can contribute to sexual problems, too. Medical conditions like diabetes, along with fatigue, stress, depression, anxiety, and relationship difficulties can all be involved, so it’s important to consider all possibilities and have a thorough checkup with a doctor.


Go Ask Alice! – Columbia University

“How do birth control pills work?”

International Society for Sexual Medicine

“What are some common sexual side effects of oral contraceptives (birth control pills)?”

“What should a woman do if she thinks oral contraceptives are causing sexual problems?”

Sexual Medicine Reviews

Lee, Jean-Jasmin M.L., MBBS, et al.

“Oral Contraception and Female Sexual Dysfunction in Reproductive Women”

(Full-text. Published online: June 30, 2016)


“Birth Control Pills”

(Reviewed: August 12, 2016)