Sexual functioning in women using levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine systems as compared to copper intrauterine devices

J Sex Med. 2012 Apr;9(4):1065-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02266.x. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Introduction: There has been little research published on the impact of intrauterine contraceptive (IUC) methods on sexual functioning.

Aims: This study aimed: (i) to assess different aspects of sexual functioning, including the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in women using a levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS); (ii) to compare this prevalence with that among copper-releasing intrauterine device (Cu-IUD) users; and (iii) to identify the relationship between psychological variables and sexual functioning in women using one of the aforementioned IUCs.

Methods: In a multicenter cross-sectional study, 845 women with an IUC were invited to fill out a questionnaire. The latter was returned by 402 (48%) of them: 353 women were LNG-IUS users (88%) and 49 were Cu-IUD users (12%). The questions asked pertained to depression, well-being, marital relation quality, and sexual functioning.

Main outcome measures: Sexual functioning was measured with the short sexual functioning scale.

Results: One-third of LNG-IUS users (33%) reported a sexual dysfunction. Of those, 20% reported an increased sexual desire, 25% a decreased sexual desire, 5% arousal problems, and 8% orgasm problems. Women using a LNG-IUS did not differ significantly in distribution, type, or prevalence (32.9% vs. 36.7%) of sexual dysfunction, nor in depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory score; 4.7 vs. 3.9; P = 0.33), general well-being (WHO-5 well-being scale score; 16.8 vs. 17.7; P = 0.170), or partner relationship quality (Dyadic Adjustment Scale score; 107 vs. 108; P = 0.74) compared to Cu-IUD users. Overall, the perceived influence of IUCs on sexual functioning was in the lower range and did not differentiate LNG-IUS greatly from Cu-IUD-users.

Conclusion: Women using a LNG-IUS do not differ from those wearing a Cu-IUD with regard to psychological and sexual functioning. The perceived impact of IUD use on sexuality should not be overestimated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices, Copper
  • Intrauterine Devices, Medicated
  • Levonorgestrel / administration & dosage*
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm / drug effects
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / diagnosis
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Levonorgestrel