Is there an association between contraceptives and sexual dysfunction in women? Reviewed by the medi

Women have a variety of contraceptive options, such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills), intrauterine devices (IUDs), condoms, and tubal ligation surgery (getting one’s “ tubes tied”).

However, the degree to which these methods affect sexual function is a matter of debate. Some studies have found that contraceptives can interfere with sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and pleasure.

Other studies report that some women find sex more satisfying when they use contraceptives. With less anxiety over an unplanned pregnancy, they might enjoy sex even more.

To learn more, a team of researchers conducted a review of medical studies and published their findings in 2020 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The researchers analyzed 12 studies that included 9,427 women overall. The average ages of the women ranged from 23 to 38. In each study, the women’s sexual function was assessed with a tool called the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). The FSFI is considered a “gold standard” tool and is often used in studies of women’s sexual health. In particular, it assesses six specific domains: sexual desire, arousal, vaginal lubrication, orgasm, sexual satisfaction, and sexual pain.

When the scientists compared the FSFI scores of contraceptive users with women who did not use contraceptives, they found no significant differences except for the domain of desire.

Oral contraceptives in particular are often thought to dampen sexual desire. Women have also reported problems with arousal, vaginal dryness, and orgasm when using oral contraceptives. [Learn more: What are some common sexual side effects of oral contraceptives (birth control pills)?]

Learn more:

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

What types of drugs have general sexual side effects?

What can patients do about sexual side effects from medications?

What medications might lower a person’s libido?

If you think your birth control method might be causing sexual problems, we encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider. It’s possible that a different type of birth control could help, and your doctor can guide you on the best plan for you.


International Society for Sexual Medicine 

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

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)

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Factors That Fuel Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can prevent you from having the sex life you desire. But although it can be embarrassing, it’s also treatable. Learn about common factors that increase your risk of ED and what you can do to improve your health.

Why Can't I Have an Orgasm?

Everyone deserves a satisfying sex life. And if you can’t orgasm, sexual activity can be frustrating and embarrassing. Instead of suffering in silence, it’s time to learn more about sexual dysfunction and the treatment options to fix it.

What Can I Do About My Impotence?

Struggling to perform in the bedroom is embarrassing. But if you have problems getting or maintaining an erection, you’re not alone. Millions of men suffer from impotence — and treatment can help. Learn what your treatment options are here.

Understanding Male Menopause

Menopause is a process that every woman experiences with age, but did you know hormonal imbalance (and its symptoms) aren’t just a women’s health issue? Male menopause is triggered by low testosterone, and it can impact your life in a number of ways.

How the O-Shot® Can Improve Your Sex Life

Low sex drive. Painful intercourse. Inability to orgasm. Sound familiar? You could be suffering from sexual dysfunction. It’s a real condition, and it’s treatable. Find out how the O-Shot® — a platelet-rich plasma therapy — could help you.

My Hormones Are Out of Balance

Hormones are important chemical messengers in your body. When they’re out of balance, you could experience a range of unpleasant symptoms. Learn the signs of hormone imbalance and what you can do to relieve your symptoms.