If you're entering into menopause, you may have started or continued taking birth control pills to ease many of its symptoms. By tempering hormonal imbalances, the pill can relieve or even eliminate experiences such as hot flashes, night sweats, and trouble sleeping.
Unfortunately, this method does have its downside. One of the most common symptoms of menopause, the loss of libido, may actually be worsened by many birth control medications. So how can you keep your sex drive and get through this tumultuous time of life in one piece? Keep reading to find out.
How Does Birth Control Affect Sex Drive? It's All in your Hormones
Scientists argue that birth control pills can actually have sex-drive killing side effects. The cause, studies suggest, is the tendency of oral contraceptives to alter the levels of the hormones that drive human sexuality, including:
Made up of testosterone and its lesser-known cousins, this group is thought to be one of the main drivers of male and female sexuality. Some studies suggest that birth control pills decrease androgen levels in women.
Many doctors view estradiol, the group of hormones that includes estrogen, as the main source of female sexuality. Oral contraceptives adversely affect estradiol levels, driving them up or down, and your libido with it.
Though many women have reported a loss of libido while taking birth control medication, studies are inconclusive. How it affects you will depend on the type of pill you take, your general health and genetics. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned that oral contraceptives may be negatively impacting your libido.
Boosting Your Libido
So you understand the risks, but don't want to throw out your pills just yet? Understanding what drives your libido - and what you can do to increase it - will help you to counter any possible negative effects from your birth control pills and the onset of menopause.
If you're experiencing low sex drive, consider any triggers in your life that may be to blame. Is it all menopause and birth control, or are you having troubles at work or conflict in your relationships? Also, be sure that you are eating correctly and exercising enough. Nothing boosts libido more than getting your heart pumping at least once a day.
Managing the symptoms of menopause is always a balancing act. Preventing one side effect may cause another. But with a healthy knowledge of what's driving your libido or lack thereof, you can fight back against triggers that negatively impact your life and relationships. Click to learn more about loss of libido.
- Studd, John. "Loss of Libido and Menopause". The Management of Menopause. Annual Review 1998. Partenon Publishing.
- Channon L.D and Ballinger S.E. "Some Aspects of Sexuality and Vaginal Symptoms during Menopause and their Relation to Anxiety and Depression". British Journal of Medical Psychology. June 1986. 59 (2): 173-80.
- Sarell, Philip, M.D. "Psychosexual effects of menopause: Role of androgens". American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. March 1999. 180: 3S-II.