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May. 4 2010 - 11:36 am | 3,207 views | 0 recommendations | 26 comments

It’s official: birth control does lower sex drive

[via Jezebel] In news that should be absolutely no surprise to women everywhere, a study has come out confirming that hormonal birth control increases the risk of “sexual dysfunction” among women. The study looked at 1046 sexually active women in Germany, and those who were on any form of hormonal contraception were at much higher risk to have lower sex drives and problems with “desire and arousal.”

Um, obvi. 

But still, as Anna North at Jezebel points out, it’s really great that there’s finally a study confirming this.

Now that a study has confirmed this effect, maybe doctors and drug companies alike will actually take notice, rather than dismissing women’s experiences as mere anecdotal evidence.

The irony is crushing– the Pill is considered to be so revolutionary for women’s sexuality, but all these years, women have just had to accept that it may destroy your sex drive.  Obliterated libido shouldn’t be considered a “side” effect, it should be considered a big-time effect.  North says it best:

Women deserve contraception that still allows them to enjoy their sex lives. But in order to provide that, doctors, researchers, and drug companies alike are going to have to listen to women — something they’re not always good at doing.

Another upsetting thing about this is that many of the side effects of hormonal birth control are held against women in society.  Depression, mood swings, and low sex drive are documented side effects of HBC, but they’re shrugged off as just crazy lady shit.  Women are stereotyped in our culture to be frigid– but if we’re frigid because of a pill we’re taking so we can have sex without pregnancy, rather than just inherently frigid because we’re women, that changes everything. Same shit with mood swings– when I was on the pill and suddenly started acting like a lunatic, I started to wonder about the cultural stereotype of women having irrational mood swings.  It’s not that women are crazy– it’s that women are drugged.

I hope, as North does, that this study leads scientists to do more research to create a pill that doesn’t create sexual dysfuction.  And I also hope that this study does a little something for how we understand women’s sexuality, or the devastating-hormone-imposed lack thereof.


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  1. collapse expand

    What I am really waiting for is a pill for men.

    Women have fluctuating biochemistry throughout the month, so wouldn’t it be simpler if the males were on a pill?

    This would also solve the pregnant teenage crisis, because I am guessing it is easier for dads to have that talk with their 16 year old sons than with their daughters.

    • collapse expand

      Ms. Eordogh,

      A male birth control pill has been in the works for decades. The pharmacology is pretty straight forward. The problem seems to have been there no one was certain about the nature of market. Would men really want to buy them? Even if a man were taking them (or at least saying that he was taking them) would a women then cease to take their birth control pill (i.e. would she trust that he was actually taking his pill). If women are not going to stop taking their pill, why would men bother taking theirs? (All of that is even before you get to the whole guilt-anxiety-avoidance cycle which short circuits birth control for so many people of every gender.)

      Nonetheless, there are clinical studies for a male birth control shot.

      http://www.ehow.com/about_4684969_effects-male-birth-control-shot.html

      When it comes to sex and birth control, nothing ever too simple.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      this would be an awesome idea, but where there is only one egg to destroy per month with women, men may release 10’s of millions of sperm each ejaculation. you’d need 100% destruction to achieve nearly the same amount of protection as you have with hbc for women. and as with anything, there is never a 100% guarantee.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        jasonprice,
        Birth control does not work by destroying each egg, and a male pill/shot does not work by destroying the sperm either.

        Davidlosangeles,
        note the hypocrisy in the piece you linked above “The male birth control shot will not be available to the public until it is studied further. There are no known side effects.”

        Birth Control pills for women have serious side effects, but no one bothers making a big stink about it.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Ms. Eordogh,

          You wrote:”note the hypocrisy in the piece you linked above “The male birth control shot will not be available to the public until it is studied further. There are no known side effects.”

          Actually that was not the last sentence and it was not accurate. If you read further down it says:”The progestin works to stop testosterone levels reaching a level to produce sperm…
          As testosterone production is stopped, however, the androgen shots are needed to sustain male health and a healthy sex drive.” (my ellipse)

          Just like with female hormone based birth control, there are indeed side-effects, namely lost libido. Beyond that an implant is needed and regular shots. Not a lot of fun.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      They have a pill that does essentially the same thing with even more ignored sides in the medical community. It’s called propecia. Ladies, you won’t have to worry about getting pregnant because it’s impossible to have sex without an erect penis.

      Altering your hormonal state is unnatural and unhealthy. It’s great to see that this is finally being recognized “officially”.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Now this is interesting. I have been obsessing over the juxtaposition of two ads on TV. One, for men’s erectile dysfunction, where a bunch of attractive middle aged men are all set to do the deed with equally interested looking middle aged women. The other commercial, shows young women apparently moving into a loft together and nary a man to be seen. This is an ad for birth control. I can’t figure it out.

    In real life, the middle aged woman is rarely interested, ED or not, and the young women would be highly unlikely to be able to afford that loft without the financial help of the middle aged man who is trying to schtupp one or both of them.

    Here’s a clue, biologically speaking, you don’t need the pill if you are living with another woman and you don’t need Viagra if you are living with a menopausal 50 year old.

    What dumbass writes these commercials?

    • collapse expand

      In real life, the middle aged woman is rarely interested…

      Really? Not the women I know.

      …and the young women would be highly unlikely to be able to afford that loft without the financial help of the middle aged man who is trying to schtupp one or both of them.

      Yeah, it’s not like young women can get jobs these days, and split the expenses of a loft with a room-mate… oh, wait, that’s what the ad showed.

      Here’s a clue, biologically speaking, you don’t need the pill if you are living with another woman…

      LOL at the “biologically speaking”.

      Because we all know that, biologically speaking, young women never have casual sex, or have boyfriends that they don’t move in with right away.

      …and you don’t need Viagra if you are living with a menopausal 50 year old.

      If a guy made assumptions like that about his partner, I wouldn’t be surprised that she has no sexual interest in him.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    Wow. Those are some seriously weird stereotypes.

    A menopausal 50 year old may indeed want her man to pop some Viagra if he needs it to keep her happy. Maybe the old fart guy needs to up his game ’stead of chasing younger chicks with (possibly) lower standards or less sexual experience. Their flesh may be firmer but they’ll leave the wrinkly old guy in a heartbeat when something better shows up. (How’s that for a nasty stereotype?)

    Molly, you sure attract colorful comments.

    What’s wrong with condoms? Most women trying to stay safe from STDS and AIDS are using them anyway, no?

  4. collapse expand

    This is fascinating stuff. A chat about sex is okay by me. An oral pill for men will never work for two reasons. 1) We could never be relied upon to take it every day. We forget everything. We forget to brush our teeth, empty the garbage, wear deodorant. We forget birthdays. We forget to send cards. We forget people’s names. And 2) Wait… I knew I had something else… hmm…

    Actually, DavidLA, a lowered libido side effect in a male contraceptive, while certainly a bummer, is nothing compared to the serious risks that women have been facing for decades by taking the pill, a higher chance of getting cervical cancer, for one. And I don’t know about you, but I think most men could handle a decreased libido. So what, while on the pill they’ll only want sex every OTHER day?

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    I am a stand-up comic and writer living in Brooklyn. I also teach theater and comedy to elementary-school kids in the Bronx. My writing and comedy videos have been featured on the women's comedy website Funny Not Slutty, Punchline Magazine, and EDGE.

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