Society’s attitudes towards sex have changed considerably, as compared to the concerns raised about the birth control pill 50 years ago.
There was much hue and cry about the Pill in the 1960s, with many stating it would not only turn women into sex fiends, but also jeopardise marriages. However, in recent times, medical concerns have shifted, with doctors maintaining the hormonal birth control pill may actually lower women’s libido and in some cases lead to sexual dysfunction.
A new study on female sexual function published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine adds evidence to the argument. Researchers in Germany, using questionnaires for assessing sexual function in over 1,000 female medical students found women using the hormonal method of birth control, mostly oral contraceptives, seemed to have lower levels of sexual desire and arousal, than women using non-hormonal methods like condoms or no contraception.
However, whether hormonal contraception directly dampens libido would involve further study, though in theory it makes biological sense. Hormonal contraception it seems lowers the levels of free and available testosterone circulating in the blood, in women. And though, the evidence is not yet certain, it is believed testosterone plays a role in the sex drive of women. Testosterone treatment has been seen to relieve hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a common form of female sexual dysfunction.
Further, a woman’s sex drive ebbs and flows in tandem with hormone levels during her normal menstrual cycle. For instance, during ovulation, when hormone levels rise in order to prompt the ovary into releasing an egg, women are more likely to be the ones to initiate sex. The Pill by preventing ovulation, ensures the women taking it experience less hormonal fluctuation throughout their menstrual cycle.
However, there are certain limitations to the German study, as the study participants were only asked whether they were in a stable relationship, not its length. And, as everyone knows, sexual frequency and desire plummet over time.
It is surprising that women have not taken serious note of this issue, even though they have been taking the pill for over 50 years.
However, the German researchers say they will be conducting a larger study, and will break down the results by length of relationship and by the dosage of hormones in various types of contraception.
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