Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Libido and the Pill

September 7th, 2010 by Laura Wershler
Laura Berman, Ph. D.

Laura Berman, Ph. D.

It’s great to see celebrity sexpert Laura Berman, Ph. D. – frequent Oprah TV guest, Oprah radio host, and (according to her website) world renowned sex and relationship expert - talk truth about the effect of the birth control pill on women’s libido.

In the September 2010 issue of Parenting magazine, Dr. Berman acknowledges that the pill can lower libido and clearly explains the mechanisms for this.  So far so good. What bothers me is her advice to moms experiencing this problem.

Happily, there are solutions, short of becoming celibate. Here are four options— talk to your doctor to see if any of them might be right for you.

Her recommendations include two alternative forms of hormonal contraception –  the Nuvaring and the Mirena IUD, the hormone-free IUD, and a sterilization method called Essure that scars the fallopian tubes to prevent sperm reaching egg.

Granted, all are legimate alternatives to the pill.  But the message sent, yet again, is that women who don’t want to get pregnant or remain celebate must depend on drugs, foreign objects inserted into the uterus, or sterilization.  If nothing else is mentioned, then nothing else must be trustworthy.

It has become all too typical for sexual healthcare providers to ignore the needs of women seeking information, support and services to use non-hormonal, non-invasive methods of birth control confidently and effectively.  This was a golden opportunity for Dr. Berman to talk about the ever effective condom, the new FemCap cervical barrier, and the growing interest amongst American women in Fertility Awareness Methods, which though wildly misunderstood by most in the medical and sexual health community have proven effectiveness equal to the pill.

Kudos to Laura Berman for telling the truth about the pill and libido.  Many sexual health care providers are not this open about the libido lowering effects of oral contraceptives.  Check out the comments at this May 2010 discussion at Jezebel.com about the subject.

Now I urge Berman to take on the challenge of providing information and support for women who are ready to turn the page on hormonal and invasive birth control methods.  For some women it will be the only way to achieve the better sex and intimacy at any age she promises on her website.



  

One Response to “Libido and the Pill”

  1. Heather D says:

    I really like the dialogue at Jezebel.com about this. What I always find interesting is how few people are ready to come out and say that it is okay to have low or fluctuating or no sex drive at some times in your life (or maybe permanently). If you want to be interested in sex and you’re not, then fine, you should try to find a way to become more interested. But, if you aren’t interested in being more interested, why is it a problem? And for that matter, celibacy can be great too.

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