Good old birth control, one of humankind’s greatest innovations. To think: before condoms, rings, patches, IUDs and the pill, our only defense against parenthood was the not-so-trusty pull out method or abstinence (and we know how well that works).
No one can dispute that the pill is a fucking miracle, promising (potentially) baby-free sex. Sadly, the pill—which should promote an even better sex life for those who take it—destroys the libido of around fifteen percent of women according to a study. Irony of ironies—for these women, the pill is such an effective form of birth control because it totally eliminates their desire for sex. Talk about buzzkills.
Now look, I’m not knocking the pill. For most women, it’s a godsend, and it’s even used by doctors to help treat some of the nastier symptoms associated with menstruation. That said, for those who are counting on the pill for birth control, a decreased libido can be frustrating, as it can negatively impact a relationship and alter the quality of someone’s sex life.
A good friend of mine—let’s call him Tom—has been in a long, committed relationship. After a year dating his girlfriend—Tracy—she decided she wanted to start taking the pill, so she spoke to her doctor and, upon his recommendation, began taking Yasmin. They were monogamous and tired of using condoms, so they thought sex au naturel would not just be more convenient for them, but more exciting, too.
After a couple months, and lots of condomless sex, Tom and Tracy noticed something. For Tom, sex was happening far less frequently than it used to and gone were the days when Tracy would approach him in an agitated state of horniness for sex. For the most part, Tom initiated sex, and he began to feel like Tracy wasn’t sexually attracted to him.
Long-term monogamous relationships can be tough, and it’s not unusual that a couple might experience difficulties sexually.
Tracy, for her part, had less of a libido, and she knew it. It’s not that she wasn’t attracted to Tom anymore, just that the spark was gone. Something was missing. Even worse, she began to feel terrible, as if she was the one responsible for their ailing sex life. This contributed to her own anxiety, and a sense that something was seriously wrong with her, and for that, she felt guilty.
They both went to see her doctor, and the only thing—they surmised—that had changed, was the fact that Tracy was on the pill. Her doctor noted that while it was possible that they might be having relationship issues that could explain their worsening sex life, the onset of their problem and the fact that it corresponded so neatly with her beginning the pill, made that the likeliest explanation.
Though scientists aren’t one hundred percent sure about how the female sex drive works, they think testosterone has something to do with it. The pill, which functions by preventing ovulation, can also lower testosterone levels in women. Tracy would go on a four-year journey trying three different pill brands and the ring, and while their efficacy as birth control was indisputable, they changed a very crucial part of her identity: her sexuality.
Tracy explored many of her options to find something that worked right for her, all under her doctor’s guidance, but ended up having to go back to condoms. For both of them, it was the best thing they could have ever done.
Tracy feels like she’s back to normal, and so they’re both benefiting from a more fulfilling sex life. “It’s like when we first started dating,” Tom told me. “And we’ve been together for six years…”
Different forms of birth control work better for different kinds of people. In Tracy’s case, toying around with her hormone levels had a dramatic impact on her ability to enjoy sex as well as her relationship with Tom. Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there. If something doesn’t work for you or for your significant other, it’s always best to consult a doctor to find something that does. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your sex drive for your birth control.