Written by: Anka Grzywacz, Senior Level Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Low sex drive on the Pill is a common complaint among women who use this form of birth control. On the one hand, contraception gives you the freedom to enjoy intimacy without stressing out about unplanned pregnancy. On the other hand, the hormones can reduce your interest in sex. Is it always like that? Are there any types of birth control pills that don't cause a drop in sex drive? And what to do if you've lost interest in intimacy while on the Pill?
What you’ll learn:
Low sex drive on the Pill is one of the most common complaints among birth control users.
Research has not found a definitive cause of diminished sex drive on the Pill, but hormones are possibly to blame.
Pills with the higher dose of hormones may be more beneficial to your libido.
Sex on the Pill may not be as frequent as before but it’s the quality that matters most.
How Does the Pill Work?
The Pill is a hormonal method of birth control. This means you’re introducing artificial hormones into your body to gain control of your fertility.
A classic Pill works by blocking your ovulation. It also changes your cervical fluid, making it thicker, so that even the most determined sperm cannot come through. Another function of the Pill is to make your uterine lining thinner, making it an unfavorable place for embryo implantation.
The hormones we’re talking about are similar to what the woman’s body is already producing – estrogen and progesterone. With traditional pills you get the same amount of each of these hormones every day for three weeks, then you take a week’s break when you get a menstruation-like bleeding.
More recent types of pills may contain different amounts of hormones in the pack, to better imitate the natural female cycle. Other brands offer pills you can take all the time without breaks, eliminating the bleeding altogether, or reducing the number of “periods” in a year.
Does Your Libido Always Drop on the Pill?
Low sex drive on the Pill is one of the most complaints among users of this method of contraception. But is birth control really to blame? Research has not found a clear link between the two and experts suspect the drop on libido on hormonal birth control has complex causes.
Some studies suggest that different types of pills have varying effects on users. For example if you’re using the Pill in a daily regime, meaning you’re taking hormones every day, your desire may be doing better compared to women who use low-dosage pills or take weekly breaks for the bleeding to happen.
Another theory concerns the role of testosterone in women’s sex drive. Since the Pill changes the balance of androgens (so-called male sex hormones) in the woman’s body, this may result in lower (or higher) libido, depending on the person and Pill type. Scientists believe some women may be more susceptible to those changes than others.
Physical effects aside, some people experience increased sex drive just because the Pill gives them high certainty that they will not get pregnant when they don’t want to. And worrying about unplanned consequences of sex can kill any sexy mood, so it’s not a surprise.
Not all women lose their sex drive on the Pill. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
How To Improve Your Sex Drive on the Pill?
The Pill was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, giving women the freedom to decide about motherhood and enjoy sex without fear of pregnancy. But this effective method of contraception doesn’t come without side effects. Here’s what to think about if the Pill is affecting your libido levels:
Consider A Different Method
If you recently started taking the Pill as a form of birth control and your libido went down, don’t panic. Your body needs up to three months to get used to the artificial hormones and you may have more side effects at the start.
If you’ve been on the Pill for a while and noticed a big difference in your sex drive compared to before starting this method of contraception, discuss this with your doctor. Sometimes a change of the Pill brand or switching to another hormonal method can help. And there are other options to consider too. If you’re not planning any (or more) kids, your male partner could do a vasectomy for example.
Choose To Be Sexual
If you decided to continue using the Pill despite its effect on your sex drive, you can still actively support your sexual energy and have a satisfying erotic life. But you need to make a conscious choice.
Your desire won’t thrive unless you pay attention to it – and to yourself. Yes, the hormones may be messing with it but there are many things you can do to boost vital energy. Libido, after all, is the energy of life. Do an honest check of the basics:
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you eating well and drinking enough water?
What about your stress levels?
Are you moving enough and is it pleasurable?
How is your relationship situation?
Making sure your general wellbeing is at a stable level is key to your libido.
Another thing to nurture when you have low sex drive on the Pill is responsive desire. Many of us were led to believe that sex always happens spontaneously. It’s that “I want you right here, right now” reaction we see in the movies.
But the reality, especially in long-term relationships or for people with physical challenges, is different. We need to help desire grow. It doesn’t mean pushing yourself to do something you don’t want. It’s about being curious and observing if your arousal will grow once you get started.
Quality Not Quantity
Libido problems are not always problematic – sometimes all it takes is a change in mindset. You may think that a person with a healthy sex drive must have sex often. That’s not true. Our interest in sex changes over the years and depending on circumstances. For example many people experienced a drop of sex drive in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of focusing on the frequency of intercourse, try to make every intimate experience count. And if your partner is not happy with that change, talk about it and find ways for him or her to satisfy their needs without pressuring you. They can masturbate, or you can do some things like hand jobs without engaging in intercourse every time.
Sex toys can help if you need stronger stimulation. Photo by Anna Shvets
Make Love to Yourself
Speaking of masturbation, giving yourself regular pleasure and orgasms is a great way to maintain your sex drive. Don’t worry, it will not reduce your interest in making love to your partner. There are no limits to how much pleasure you can feel!
Pay attention to the effect of the Pill on your sexual functioning. If you’ve noticed you need stronger stimulation to experience climax, a vibrator or clitoral suction toy can do the trick. Also, hormones can reduce your natural lubrication, so make sure to have lubricant at hand.
Get Your Sex Drive Back
Libido is tricky for many women, and the Pill complicates things even more. But not all is lost! Working with a doctor and changing some of your lifestyle and bedroom habits will help you feel the excitement again.
Don’t know where to start? Download my free mini audio course Go Back to Good Sex. With these short recordings you’ll take stock of your libido and get motivated to improve it.
Anka Grzywacz, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist and Certified Sex Coach. In her online practice she specialized in helping women with low desire, orgasm problems, and intimacy after baby. In 2019 she presented her "Good Enough Sex" philosophy at TEDx Zurich. Back in her home country, Poland, she hosted a nationwide radio show on sexuality and relationships at TOK FM Radio. Anka started out as sex educator, working with teenagers, and a reproductive rights activist. Today, she is based in Zurich, Switzerland.