The Pill and Your Sex Drive

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on May 27, 2023
3 min read

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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