The effects of hormonal contraceptives on female sexuality: a review

J Sex Med. 2012 Sep;9(9):2213-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02848.x. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


Introduction: Hormonal contraceptives can influence female sexual function.

Aim: The goal of this article was to provide a comprehensive review of the effects that various hormonal contraceptives may have on female sexual function.

Methods: A Medline search was conducted using several terms related to and including the terms contraception, oral contraceptive, female sexual function, dyspareunia, libido, and sexual desire.

Results: A thorough review of the effects of hormonal contraceptives on female sexual function.

Conclusions: The sexual side effects of hormonal contraceptives are not well studied, particularly with regard to impact on libido. There appears to be mixed effects on libido, with a small percentage of women experiencing an increase or a decrease, and the majority being unaffected. Healthcare providers must be aware that hormonal contraceptive can have negative effects on female sexuality so they can counsel and care for their patients appropriately.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Cervix Mucus / drug effects
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / therapeutic use
  • Contraceptive Devices, Female
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / history
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Desogestrel / therapeutic use
  • Ethinyl Estradiol / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Levonorgestrel / therapeutic use
  • Libido*
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / therapeutic use
  • Progesterone Congeners / therapeutic use
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Sexuality*
  • Vulva / drug effects
  • Vulvodynia / chemically induced


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Progesterone Congeners
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • etonogestrel
  • Ethinyl Estradiol
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Desogestrel
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate