Hormonal contraceptives linked to female sexual dysfunction

Two out of five women suffer from at least one form of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD), with low desire being the most common problem. A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine may have found at least one reason why this number is so high. A strong, positive correlation was discovered between hormonal contraceptives and FSD. Conversely, women who didn't use hormonal forms of birth control had the lowest risk of FSD, even lower than women who didn't use any form of birth control.

1,086 female medical students in German completed a questionnaire regarding sexual function. 97.3% of respondents had been sexually active within the last four weeks and 87.4% had used contraceptives in the last 6 months.

To study the impact of contraceptives on sexual function, women using multiple forms of birth control or who had not been sexually active within the last four weeks were excluded. Of the 1,046 remaining participants, 32.4% were considered at risk for FSD, 5.8% at high risk for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, 1% for arousal disorder, 1.2% for decreased lubrication, 8.7% for orgasm disorder, 2.6% for satisfaction problems, and 1.1% for pain.

The participants were then divided into four subgroups of oral (hormonal) contraception (OC), non-oral hormonal contraception (NOHC), nonhormonal contraception (NHC), and no contraception (NC). The group with the lowest risk for FSD was NHC (31.0), followed by NC (29.5) and OC (28.3). The highest risk was NOHC (27.4). Both OC and NOHC groups had the highest risk for desire and arousal problems.

Smokers also suffered more often from sexual dysfunction.  Other factors including age, prior pregnancy, desire for children, and partnership status were not significantly correlated with sexual dysfunction. However, keep in mind however that the sample group only studied female medical students, which is a rather exclusive demographic. Also, women not in stable relationships (regardless of contraception use) had higher sexual desire but lower orgasm scores. This is not surprising considering the difficulty in finding a competent sexual partner and the time it takes for that partner to figure out what pleases his female companion.

To women, and their steady partners, who rely on hormonal birth controls, these findings may not be that shocking. Hormonal contraceptives have widely been known among users to cause a number of negative side effects, including a reduced libido. Each type reacts differently with every woman. Some pills clear up your skin while others cause acne. Some make you lose weight and others make you gain it. Some reduce your period and others lengthen it. And yes, some even reduce your desire to have sex. It's even a joke that some hormonal contraceptives are so effective because they kill your libido, give you acne, make you fat, and make you extra moody.

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