Hormonal contraception and sexual desire: A questionnaire-based study of young Swedish women

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2016;21(2):158-67. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2015.1079609. Epub 2015 Aug 27.


Objectives: The aim of the study was to determine whether a decrease in sexual desire is more prevalent among women using hormonal contraception than among women using hormone-free contraception, and whether a decrease increases the risk of changing to another contraceptive method.

Methods: A validated questionnaire was posted to 3740 women (aged 22, 25 or 28 years) living in Sweden. Descriptive statistics were used to present the results; differences between groups were tested using χ(2) analyses. A multiple logistic regression model was used for analysis of possible confounders.

Results: The response rate was 50%. The majority (81%) of respondents used some kind of contraception, and 88% were generally satisfied with the method used. Regardless of the type of method, 27% of hormonal contraceptive users reported a decrease in sexual desire that they attributed to their use of hormonal contraception, whereas only 12% of women using hormone-free contraception reported a decrease in sexual desire (p<0.01). This twofold risk of a decrease in sexual desire was shown in the multiple regression analysis to be independent of age group, depression, BMI, educational level and parity. However, having a partner was found to be a factor of equal importance: women with partners experienced reduced desire twice as often as women without partners. The observed odds ratio for planning to stop hormonal contraception or to change to a different type due to reduced desire was 8.16 (95% confidence interval 6.65-10.1) among women who had had the same experience during a previous period of hormonal contraceptive use.

Conclusions: Women using hormonal contraception were more likely to experience reduced sexual desire compared with women using hormone-free contraception. Experiencing reduced desire was a strong predictive factor for women to change contraceptive method.

Keywords: Cross-sectional study; Hormonal contraceptives; Intrauterine devices; Progestin; Sexual desire.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / therapeutic use
  • Contraceptive Devices, Female
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Intrauterine Devices, Medicated*
  • Libido*
  • Logistic Models
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Transdermal Patch
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal