Understanding The Birth Control Low Libido Connection

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Exploring The Link Between Birth Control Low Libido

As a functional medicine doctor, I work to normalize hard but important conversations about low libido. I often encounter patients who express concerns about the impact of birth control on their sexual desire. This is so incredibly normal, yet because of the subject matter, many people feel confused and alone when it comes to birth control low libido.

Learn more about other root causes of Low Libido in Women

Birth Control and Low Libido

How Birth Control Can Affect Your Sex Drive

Hormonal birth control methods, such as pills, patches, and intrauterine devices (IUDs), are widely used for their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. However, it’s essential to understand the potential side effects, including changes in libido. In this blog post, I will into the connection between birth control and libido, drawing on scientific studies to provide a comprehensive understanding of this issue from a functional medicine standpoint.

Understanding the Link Between Hormonal Birth Control and Low Libido. 

Hormonal birth control methods work by regulating hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, to prevent ovulation and create an environment in the uterus that is inhospitable for sperm (1). While these methods are undeniably effective for contraception, they may also influence an individual’s libido or sexual desire. A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women using hormonal contraceptives reported lower levels of sexual desire compared to those not using them (2). However, it’s crucial to recognize that the impact on libido may vary among individuals, and not everyone will experience the same side effects. 

Factors Influencing Changes in Libido

As a functional medicine practitioner, I always consider the various factors that may contribute to changes in libido when using birth control:

1. Hormonal fluctuations: The regulation of sex hormones by hormonal contraceptives can interfere with an individual’s natural hormonal balance, potentially affecting libido (3). A functional medicine approach seeks to restore hormonal balance through personalized treatment plans that address underlying imbalances.

2. Psychological factors: The perception of birth control as a potential libido suppressant or concerns about potential side effects may contribute to a placebo effect, leading to decreased sexual desire (4). Open conversations about these concerns can help alleviate anxiety and promote a healthier understanding of one’s sexual health.

3. Individual differences: Each person’s body reacts differently to hormonal birth control, and the impact on libido. Interestingly, the delivery method of the hormones can make a big difference on the impact of sex drive. One study found that when women used estrogen intravaginally, desire was much higher than when women used oral dosing that was even higher in prescription amount (4).

Types of Birth Control and Their Impact on Libido

Concerns about libido and birth control are common. Different types of contraception can have varying effects on your sexual desire. Let’s take a closer look at various birth control methods and their potential impact (if any) on libido.

Combined Oral Contraception

Combined oral contraceptives, containing both estrogen and progestin, are amongst the most commonly used birth control methods. According to a study cited in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (23 Davis), switching to a non-androgenic or androgenic progestin-containing oral contraceptive might improve sexual function among women with sexual dysfunction associated with contraceptive usage.

Vaginal Ring

The hormonal vaginal ring represents a less-studied birth control method. A review study has indicated that compared to people using the pill, users of the vaginal ring were three times more likely to report increased vaginal wetness, which could imply enhanced sexual functioning. Both pill and ring users in this study reported improved sexual pleasure and orgasm.

Progestin-Only Pill (POP)

POP has been associated with mixed results when it comes to libido. In one study, users of combined pills, progestin-only pills, and the vaginal ring reported higher sexual interest during the period they used the vaginal ring compared to either pill type. But, in another study, the progestin-only pill showed no impact on sexual interest or activity at four months in comparison to a placebo .

Intrauterine Devices

Intrauterine devices, both hormonal and copper, have generally been found not to negatively impact or even improve sexual satisfaction. For example, one study reported that 9 out of 10 people using an IUD had no change in libido, and 3 out of 10 reported increased sexual spontaneity. Yet, as with other contraceptive methods, personal responses can vary.

Progestin Contraceptive Implant

Research on how a progestin contraceptive implant affects sexual function has been limited, so it’s challenging to definitively comment on its impact on libido. But, it’s safe to say that, as with any hormonal contraceptive, the implant may impact sexual desire, which may vary from person to person.

Injectable Contraceptives

Injectable contraceptives, though less common than oral contraceptives, can potentially also influence sexual desire. Depending upon the individual, and genetic aspects like the sensitivity of androgen receptors, these contraceptives might show variations in effect on libido.

Remember, birth control is a personal choice, and responses can vary dramatically among individuals. To understand how different methods might affect your sexual desire, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider to find a solution that works best for you and your body.

What Birth Control Method Doesn’t Affect Libido?

 Sometimes low libido can improve by switching to a pill with different levels of different hormones. The progestin-only birth control pills (the mini pill) do not affect androgen levels and thus have a lower chance of decreasing libido compared to combination birth control pills.

Any of the non-hormonal barrier methods will avoid side effects, including low libido such as:

  • Caps or diaphragms
  • Condoms
  • The female condom
  • Non-hormonal copper IUD
  • Spermicide
  • Natural family planning using fertility awareness

Boosting Libido on Birth Control

If your birth control seems to be affecting your sex drive, there are ways to combat it

  1. Exercise is a great way to increase your libido. It releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
  2. Try eating a healthy diet. Foods that are high in zinc and magnesium can help increase your sex drive. Think oysters (zinc) and dark chocolate (magnesium).
  3. Reduce and manage your stress. Stress can have a negative impact on your libido. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, meditation or spending time in nature.
  4. Experiment with natural supplements that may increase desire, like maca, ginseng, or L-arginine – but check with your doc first.
  5. Talk to your partner about what’s going on. They may be able to offer support and understanding.
  6. Try to create a romantic atmosphere in the bedroom. Light candles, put on some music or take a bubble bath together.
  7. Experiment with different types of foreplay. This can help you get in the mood and make sex more enjoyable.
  8. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have sex if you’re not feeling it. It’s okay to say no sometimes.

Non hormonal birth control may be the answer for some women, however this should be done with much consideration. It is important to evaluate for the risk of pregnancy and a plan for if pregnancy does occur. When it comes to birth control, there is no one way right for every woman. And when it comes to low libido, there is no one answer that will reverse symptoms. 

Check out our Masterclass to help women take power of their own libido. It is estimated that 70% of women feel that low libido impacts their interpersonal relationships. Other research shows that 71% of women improve their libido just by TALKING ABOUT IT! Part of what we do at the libido doctor is provide a safe space in our classes to talk to others as we educate you about the steps you can take to improve your libido.


Gabidullina, R., Galimyanova, E., Bagirli, R., & Sharapova, A. (2019). Effects of combined oral contraceptives on the sexuality and quality of life of women.

Casado-Espada, N., Alarcón, R., Iglesia-Larrad, J., Bote-Bonaechea, B., & Montejo, A. (2019). Hormonal Contraceptives, Female Sexual Dysfunction, and Managing Strategies: A Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8.

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Low Libido in Women