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Lower Desire Reported in Women Who Use Contraceptives

Lower Desire Reported in Women Who Use ContraceptivesGenerally speaking, using birth control doesn’t raise a woman’s risk for sexual problems, according to new research in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. However, women who use contraceptives do report significant loss of sexual desire.

In the past, experts have questioned whether sexual difficulties were linked to contraceptive use. For example, some women who use hormonal contraceptives (like birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings) report poor vaginal lubrication and less sexual pleasure. Other women say they enjoy sex more when they use contraceptives.

To get some new insights, a team of scientists reviewed 12 studies from around the world on contraceptive use and female sexual function. Together, the studies included almost 9,500 women from 10 countries. The women’s average ages ranged from early twenties to late thirties.

All of the studies used an assessment tool called the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). The FSFI is a popular tool among sex health researchers. It covers six aspects of sexual function: desire, arousal, vaginal lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction with sex, and sexual pain.

Clinicians consider a woman’s overall FSFI score when diagnosing sexual dysfunction. However, the tool also allows for individual domain scores, so clinicians can see whether one area might be more problematic than another.

When they compared the FSFI scores of women who used contraceptives with those who did not, the researchers found no significant differences. In other words, all the women had similar levels of sexual function.

However, when they looked at specific FSFI subscales, they saw that sexual desire was lower in contraceptive users, suggesting that birth control methods might reduce desire.

Further study is needed, they added.


The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Huang, Minger, MB, et al.

“Is There an Association Between Contraception and Sexual Dysfunction in Women? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Based on Female Sexual Function Index”

(Full-text. Published: July 18, 2020)