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Lost That Lovin' Feeling? Don't Blame the Pill

When your sex drive is sputtering, you may want to take a closer look at several factors in your life.//

In fact, it’s natural for people to ask: Is the loss of sexual desire due directly to taking the birth control pill? The answer to this question – which has been asked for more than 40 years, since the oral contraceptive was introduced – may now be less murky, according to researchers at the Ohio State University Medical Center.

Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, an obstetrician and gynecologist with the medical center, reviewed more than 25 years’ worth of studies, examining the relationship between oral contraceptives and libido, and concluded that the pill has little, if any, effect on a woman’s sex drive. His study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.

The issue has roots in the early forms of the pill, developed in the 1960s, which often contained high levels of estrogens and progestins – many times as much as 80 to 150 micrograms in single doses. The makeup of birth control pills caused many women to become bloated, feel breast tenderness or experience nausea.

‘These side effects could easily have caused women to feel extremely uncomfortable, translating into decreased libido,’ noted Schaffir. ‘Also much less was known about the human sexual response at that time, which could have led to information based on opinion and not on fact.’

Schaffir made a critical assessment of the published information, to see if there is a way to predict whether certain types of hormonal contraception – or certain segments of the population – are more prone to changes in libido.

Schaffir noted that some women, indeed, experience a change in libido while taking oral contraceptives, but he could find no predictable patterns for this in the literature.

When looking for a consistent biological effect of hormonal contraception on sexual desire, androgens would probably be the f
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