Does contraception affect your sex drive?

There are many different things in our lives that can impact our sex drive and how much we want sex. So, when you look at the research, there’s no evidence to show direct links between different kinds of hormonal contraception and changes in libido.

Despite this, some people do say they experience changes - both a higher and lower sex drive – while using contraception. Some people say it stays the same.

What’s the medical evidence?

A has looked at how contraception might affect sex drive. The key points from this article are:

  • there's been very little research on this so far

  • the research available suggests that the effect of contraception on sex drive is highly variable – some people report increased sex drive, some people report reduced sex drive, and some people report no change

  • we don’t understand why the effects occur when they do, but it may relate to lower levels of testosterone in the blood

Real life experiences

Even though there's no clear evidence, many people taking hormonal contraception do find it changes their desire for sex. We asked a few different people about the contraception they use and how it's changed their sex life.

“I started taking the progestogen only pill, Cerelle, around 1 year ago. I’m pretty sure that my sex drive disappeared at the same time. I barely had any interest in sex at all and was super dry; it came back as soon as I got off it – sadly, so did my periods.”

“I took the progestogen-only pill for about 2 years. My sex drive is average and I don’t remember noticing a difference. So I don't so much want to have sex more or less often, but I'm more excited when I do have it because I'm protected.”

“I switched from the combined pill to the progestogen only pill 2 months ago and I actually want to have sex with my husband again. I don’t need a whole lot of lube to make sex feel tolerable and I don’t have to feel guilty about not wanting sex. I am feeling happier at work though and less stressed so that could also have made a difference.”

“I’ve noticed that since starting my progestogen only pills, my sex drive has gone into overdrive – it is now higher than my boyfriend’s – causing some problems.”

“I have a very low sex drive on the pill, but the positive is that I rarely experience negative emotions. I have gone years without crying. It really evens out your emotions, I think the difference is that I don’t suffer from PMS on the pill.”

If you find your contraception has had an unwanted effect on your desire for sex, speak to your GP, sexual health clinic or whoever provided your contraception. They should be able to give you advice on alternative methods that could suit you better.

Remember when you first start a method of contraception, it can take up to 3 months for your body to get used to it and for any short-term side effects to settle. It might be a good idea to wait for 3 months to see if things settle down before you think about changing methods.

Last updated at: 22 February 2024
Published on: 07 December 2022