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Does birth control affect sex drive (aka libido)?

Hormonal birth control, such as the pill or certain IUDs, can have side effects that impact your body, mood, and more. Wondering if your birth control is causing lower sex drive? Nurse Practitioner F at Hey Jane breaks down the research and ways to improve your libido—regardless of the reason.

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What is a “normal” sex drive? 

It’s important to know that there is no such thing as a normal sex drive. Sex drive varies from individual to individual—and you having a different sex drive level than someone else does not make your sex drive better or worse. However, if you are concerned about your sex drive, it’s a valid reason to bring it to the attention of a trusted healthcare provider. 

What is libido? Are sex drive and libido the same thing? 

Libido means a desire for sexual activity, and yes, it is the same thing as sex drive. You might also have heard it described as an interest or enthusiasm in sexual intercourse.

What the research says about birth control and sex drive

As providers, we are oftentimes asked this question and to be honest, the answer is complicated. Generally speaking, studies have shown that for most people who have a capacity for pregnancy, or who use contraceptives, birth control use does not significantly impact sexual function. But “most” is not all people, and for a small percentage of people who use birth control pills, studies have found both increased and decreased libido

Research tends to support that relationships—including relationship stress, conflict, attraction, communication, and even partner availability—impact libido more than the use of birth control. However, changes in libido are rarely due to individual factors. For example, people often experience an increase in sexual desire and arousal around ovulation, so it makes sense that a birth control method that prevents ovulation might decrease libido. Causes of decreased libido are also not entirely understood and might even be a combination of psychological, relationship, and hormonal factors.

Trust your instincts

Regardless of the research, it is important to listen to and trust your body. If you begin to feel different, or notice an undesired libido change, after starting a birth control method, have an open conversation with a trusted provider about all possible causes. This includes causes that might not even be related to the birth control method, such as your personal safety, stress levels, or even other medications you are taking. For example, certain classes of antidepressants have been linked with decreased libido. 

It can sometimes be difficult to advocate for ourselves but trust that your concerns are valid and know that you deserve to be on a method that supports all of your well being, even if that means switching to another birth control method that is safe for you.

How Hey Jane can help

At Hey Jane, we approach birth control as a partnership between you, the patient, and us, the provider. Selecting birth control can feel like a frustrating process of trial and error, especially as you navigate potential unwanted side effects and lifestyle demands. (Not everyone wants to or can remember to take a pill every day.) . Many people have a complicated relationship with birth control—that’s why we offer customized treatment plans for your unique body, medical history, and lifestyle needs. You know your body best, and we’re here to help find the right option.

Our team of providers will partner with you to find the best birth control method for your body and lifestyle preferences. With 100+ options from pills and the ring to the patch and the shot—and including both hormonal and non-hormonal options—we work together to find the right solution for you. 

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100+ birth control options from the comfort and convenience of your phone

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What should I do if I feel like my birth control is impacting my sex drive?

Oftentimes sex and libido changes can be difficult to talk about, but these are normal, and quite common, concerns. Our team of providers have also likely heard it all before, so schedule some time to speak with a trusted provider about your libido concerns—you deserve to have a pleasurable (and healthy) sex life. 

How to increase sex drive while on birth control

Communicate with your partner about your libido concerns as well as boundaries and sexual turn-ons. Experiment with new positions or locations. Listen to your body—if a position hurts or is uncomfortable, stop or shift and communicate this with a partner. Consider masturbation—it can help to know how to arouse yourself so you can better communicate wants and needs with a partner. Sex therapists are also an option for a deeper diver into sex drive concerns. 

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Written by

Nurse Practitioner F

Nurse Practitioner F (she/her) is a board-certified nurse practitioner who has specialized in sexual and reproductive health for over a decade. She also loves traveling around the world and exploring new art spaces. *Note: Some of our team member have requested to remain anonymous for their privacy.

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