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The Pill and Your Sex Drive

The pill is the contraceptive that we love to hate. On the one hand it is female controlled and very easy to manage, which is something that women could only have dreamed of for centuries. The sheer numbers of women around the world who are able to control their fertility and enjoy the fact that it is still the most reliable contraceptive available, attests to it still being the best available option out there for so many people.

On the other hand, the pill has come under a lot of fire about its safety. The truth is, when you weigh the pros and the cons, unless you have special risk factors, the safety is less of a worry than the side effects.

Women over age 35 who smoke and use the pill are at a higher risk of developing blood clots, which can be fatal. You are encouraged to quit smoking, or to choose another form of contraception.
Although the pill is known to cause a small but significant increase in breast cancer, it is also known to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is usually more difficult to diagnose and treat. As far as the debate about the pill causing cancer goes, the risks and the benefits more or less balance each other out. The decision to use the pill or another form of contraceptive should be made with your gynecologist, after reviewing your personal history and risk factors.

The question to be asked is: is the pill good for your sex?

The pill, along with its hormonal contraceptive sisters (hormone patches, hormonal IUD, Norplant capsules, Depo-Provera injections), has been shown to reduce a woman’s sex drive, and even her orgasmic ability. This is because hormonal contraceptives cause the release of a hormone (SHGB) which binds with free testosterone and thereby drops the woman’s testosterone levels, which have an effect on her sex drive. It is true that testosterone is known as the “male” hormone, but women also produce it and need it, if on a lower level.

On the pure physiological level, all the facts show that the pill should decrease a woman’s desire. But on the psychological level, it might have just the opposite effect. There is a massive advantage to knowing that you are using the most reliable method of contraception available, and for many women, the confidence that they can enjoy sex without worrying about unwanted pregnancy, acts as a turn-on and reduces ambivalence about having sex and thereby, inhibition.

With these opposite forces in play, different women will experience the pill differently. Some will enjoy a freer sex life, others will be acutely aware of a lower sex drive, or they may notice that the decrease in their desire occurs slowly. With many younger women using the pill from an early age, they may not know there real sex drive until they stop taking the pill. Depending how concerned a person is about pregnancy and how affected they are by the hormone adjustment in their bodies, so the pill can be a better or a worse choice for them. In the end the question remains, what real choices do you have?

Hands up who would really be willing to hand over the responsibility if there was a male pill?


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