The Pill and Your Sex Drive

Not in the mood lately? You could just be tired or stressed. Or, your birth control pills might be to blame.

Sometimes the pill can change your sex drive. There are ways to get things back on track, once you know what’s happening.

The Pill and Low T

Most birth control pills contain the female hormones estrogen and progestin. They’re often called combined pills. The types and amounts of hormones vary, but they all tinker with the way your body works.

Many combined pills lower your testosterone. That’s the hormone that makes you want to have sex. You probably think of testosterone as a guy hormone. Women have it, too, just not as much. Most women who take the pill still make enough testosterone to have a healthy love life. But if you’re low to begin with, your sex drive could take a hit.

It’s About More Than Hormones

Sex isn’t only about hormones. The person, place, and time matter.

If you’re just not feeling it, think about your relationship. No pairing is perfect, but things should be good most of the time.

Does your partner respect you?

Are you open and honest with each other?

Or do you argue a lot?

Do you fight about money?

Stress, anger, and anxiety can really kill the mood. An even bigger mood killer? Your body image. If you don’t like the way you look, it can be hard to take your clothes off or enjoy sex.

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How to Get Your Mojo Back

If you’re feeling a little less in the mood lately, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that can help get the train back on track:

Learn to love plants. Saturated fat -- the stuff that oozes out of your burger -- can raise your cholesterol. The higher it is, the lower your sex drive. Choose plant-based proteins like nuts and beans, or lean chicken and fish.

Kiss junk food goodbye. Loaded with sugar and bad fats, junk food makes you sleepy and bloated. That’s not how you want to look and feel in the bedroom.

Think zinc. This mineral boosts testosterone for men and women. Look for it in:

  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chicken
  • Shellfish

Embrace dark chocolate. It’s better for you than other sweets. Make sure it’s at least 70% dark chocolate and low in sugar.

It Can Go the Other Way

Not everyone who takes the pill loses interest in sex. Some women feel even sexier than normal.

It might not be your hormones talking, though. Maybe you feel freer now that you’re not worried about getting pregnant. You might also feel healthier with lighter periods or no periods at all.

Talk With Your Doctor

It’s common for women to feel their desire change over time. But if you’re taking the pill and notice big changes -- especially ones you don’t like -- tell your doctor. Something else could be to blame, like:

If your doctor gives you a clean bill of health, it might be time to switch to a pill that doesn’t lower testosterone. A supplement called DHEA could help boost testosterone, too. Or, you might want to try a birth control method that doesn’t use hormones, like:

  • IUDs
  • Cervical caps
  • Diaphragms

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on May 16, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Psychology Today: The Latest on Birth Control Pills and Women’s Libido.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Progestin-Only Hormonal Birth Control: Pill and Injection.

The Journal of Sexual Medicine: “Impact of Contraceptive Type on Sexual Desire of Women and of Men Partnered to Contraceptive Users.”

Plannedparentood.org: “Relationships.”

Medical News Today: “How Does Diabetes Affect Your Sex Life?”

Sexual Medicine: “The Relationship Between Body Image and Domains of Sexual Functioning Among Heterosexual, Emerging Adult Women.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Frequently Asked Questions: Your Sexual Health.”

Journal of Women’s Health: “Improvement of Low Sexual Desire Due to Antiandrogenic Combined Oral Contraceptives After Switching to an Oral Contraceptive Containing 17β-Estradiol.”

Contraception: “Maintaining physiological testosterone levels by adding dehydroepiandrosterone to combined oral contraceptives: I. Endocrine effects.”

Clevelandclinic.org: “Lost Your Libido? 6 Smart Diet Choices to Get It Back.”

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