Researchers and clinicians continue to debate whether birth control leads to low libido.
However, we cannot deny one thing: Some women report a much lower sex drive after starting birth control.
If you notice your sex drive is not what it used to be, your doctor can talk to you about starting a new form of birth control — or giving it up altogether.
However, making changes to your birth control is not all you can do. You can support your libido with evidence-based strategies that have been shown to increase sex drive.
In this guide from ASYSTEM, we’ll go over what they are and everything you need to know about the connection between birth control and libido.
How Does Birth Control Work?
Before we dive into the connection between birth control and libido, let’s go over how this popular contraceptive works.
Birth control can be classified as either hormonal or non-hormonal.
Non-hormonal birth control, like the copper intrauterine device (IUD), doesn't change hormone levels. Instead, they cause a reaction that is toxic to sperm. This essentially “kills” the sperm and prevents them from fertilizing the egg.
Hormonal birth control causes changes in sex hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone. Changing hormone levels prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg, making pregnancy impossible.
What Are the Side Effects of Birth Control?
Birth control comes with certain side effects, some of which may indirectly contribute to low libido.
For instance, one large-scale study found an association between birth control use and symptoms of depression. While this does not prove a causal relationship, the association is too strong to ignore.
How does this relate to libido?
The symptoms of depression — such as fatigue, hopelessness, and low-self esteem — can lead to a low sex drive.
In addition, some studies show that birth control can cause changes in a woman’s body composition.
For instance, one experiment put a group of women through 10 weeks of resistance training. At the end of the experiment, women on birth control had gained 40% less muscle than women who weren’t on birth control. Changes in body composition can cause body image issues, which can lower sex drive.
Does Birth Control Lower Sex Drive?
Most of the research on birth control and libido shows that it can either low sex drive, keep it about the same, or lower it. It is hard to say with 100% certainty that birth control lowers one’s sex drive. However, some factors can make it more likely that birth control will cause a change in your libido.
Most importantly, the type of birth control you take plays a big role in how it affects your sex drive. Forms of birth control that lower testosterone levels can play a significant role in your libido — since healthy testosterone levels are directly linked to a “normal” libido. In addition, increasing testosterone levels can boost sex drive in women.
In addition, forms of birth control that increase progesterone levels are another potential cause of a low sex drive. Progesterone decreases serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in regulating your mood. Low serotonin levels can lead to a depressed mood, contributing to reduced libido.
Your baseline hormone levels can also influence how likely you are to develop a low libido. For instance, low estrogen levels have been linked to reduced blood flow to the genitals, which can decrease sexual arousal.
If someone with low estrogen levels takes birth control that further decreases these levels, they are more likely to experience a low libido than someone with normal baseline levels of estrogen.
How To Increase Libido While on Birth Control
If your libido plummets after you start taking birth control, your doctor might suggest trying new birth control to see if symptoms persist. Some doctors may even recommend getting off birth control altogether.
However, this is not your only option for getting your libido back. In addition to following your doctor’s medical advice, there are some steps you can take to boost your libido naturally.
Here are five options to consider:
1. Lower Stress
Stress is no stranger to any of us. About three-fourths of U.S. adults report being stressed out on a regular basis. Stress is so prevalent that we’ve accepted it as the norm.
However, there is nothing normal about being stressed out all the time. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body and mind. Amongst the various health conditions that we can link to stress, hormonal imbalance is one with the greatest implications for your libido.
Studies show that excess amounts of the hormone cortisol are released into the body during times of high stress. This causes an imbalance in sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. This can directly cause low libido.
However, stress can also indirectly cause a low sex drive. For instance, stress is linked to reduced blood flow (including the genitals). This can make it hard to get aroused, making you crave sex a lot less. Besides, who wants to have sex when they have a thousand other things on their mind?
You probably already know what you need to do to bust stress. Whether it’s an intense workout, a calming meditation session, or spending quality time with your dog, the best approach is highly individual.
You can get extra support from herbal supplements. ASYSTEM’s De-Stress Gummies contain a blend of ingredients clinically proven to lower stress levels.
2. Improve Your Body Image
Although birth control won’t make you gain weight, it can cause changes in your body composition — and not necessarily for the better. You may notice that you are feeling more bloated, gaining weight around the midsection, or struggling to build muscle. This can lead to changes in your body image.
If this begins to take a toll on your sex life, it’s best to nip it in the bud. In addition to doing what you can to keep your body healthy (including changing your form of birth control), you can talk to a counselor about your body image. If you have a partner, they can also provide you with the reassurance that you need to feel confident.
3. Communicate With Your Partner
Low libido can take a toll on you. After all, sex is awesome and suddenly getting less of it is no one’s idea of fun.
However, low libido can affect your partner if you're in a relationship. If this leads to tension, it can further exacerbate problems with sexual desire. For this reason, it’s good to talk with your partner and brainstorm ways to boost desire.
Of course, it’s important not to blame yourself for a low sex drive — especially if it’s only with one person. It’s normal to lose the desire for someone. You should ask yourself if the problem lies with you or with your partner.
4. Focus On Your Pleasure
One sure way to increase your desire for sex is to make it more pleasurable.
Women have significantly fewer orgasms than men, for which we can blame our culture. The media often portrays “normal” sex as intercourse. While this is even to make most men orgasm, many women need clitoral stimulation.
Even if we take orgasm away, some women need extra foreplay to feel aroused. However — again, thanks to our culture — some women are portrayed as being “ready” for sex without any foreplay. This can make intercourse uncomfortable and, sometimes, downright painful.
To increase your sexual desire, make sure your sex includes plenty of what you need to feel aroused. An increase in your pleasure may lead you to crave sex more.
5. Try Libido-Boosting Supplements
While libido-boosting medications exist (yes, even for women), they have their fair share of side effects. Some women may turn to natural supplements to support their sex drive.
ASYSTEM’s Female Libido Gummies contain a blend of ingredients that have been clinically shown to boost sex drive, such as S7®, Fenugreek Extract, Baron Citrate, and many others. Taking these can increase blood flow, increase energy levels, and balance sex hormones — for a higher libido the natural way.
Some forms of birth control can lead to reduced libido. If changing your birth control isn’t possible, you have several natural options for increasing your sex drive.
We recommend reducing stress, improving your body image, resolving any relationship troubles, and focusing on your sexual pleasure to increase your libido.
To help you, ASYSTEM’s Libido System contains clinically-proven ingredients to raise your libido.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Former Olympic Athlete, Founder, B2ten Foundation (coach to multiple Olympic Champions)
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