Hormonal birth control comes in two varieties: 1) the minipill, which is progestin only, and 2) combination pills, which contain estrogen and progestin. These synthetic hormones mix with your body’s natural hormones and act to fool your body into thinking it is pregnant. If your body believes it is pregnant, it will not release an egg each month, and thus there is no egg to be fertilized to create an actual pregnancy. The issue here is that the result of chemically altering your body’s natural hormones is a decrease in sexual urges and responses, putting a damper on your ability to orgasm.
In a 2011 study conducted at Indiana University, research scientists at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion examined the sex lives of 1,101 women, half of which were using hormonal forms of birth control (patch, shot, ring, or pill) and half of which used condoms, the rhythm method, or other natural forms of birth control. They discovered that while both groups had the same level of intimacy, women using hormonal birth control reported lower levels of arousal, lubrication, frequency of sex, and number of orgasms.
Hormonal forms of birth control increase the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in a woman’s body to four times its normal levels. When SHGB increases, free testosterone, which helps power your sex drive, decreases. Unfortunately, stopping the use of hormonal birth control does not fix this issue immediately. In fact, studies have shown that even six months after stopping, SHBG levels remain at twice the normal levels. For some women, the levels remain twice as high as normal for one year or more. If you are concerned that your sex life is being impacted by your use of hormonal birth control, it is important to speak to your doctor immediately.