Women's Sexual Function, Satisfaction, and Perceptions After Starting Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives

Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Nov;128(5):1143-1151. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001655.


Objective: To document how long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) affects women's sexual outcomes.

Methods: In this prospective, observational cohort study, we enrolled new-start intrauterine device and contraceptive implant users attending four family planning clinics. Data collection occurred at baseline, 1 month, and 3 months. Primary outcomes were the Female Sexual Function Index, New Sexual Satisfaction Scale, and perceived sexual effects of method (positive, negative, or none). Secondary outcomes included other factors associated with LARC's sexual acceptability, including the ability to "let go" in sex, sense of control over pregnancy, and bleeding changes. Chi square and F-tests assessed differences between method groups at baseline. Mixed-effects models, robust Wald χ tests, and conditional logistic regression documented differences from baseline and trends over time.

Results: In December 2014 to April 2015, 200 patients consented and enrolled in the study. Among 159 women who completed three survey rounds, 20% selected copper intrauterine devices, 46% levonorgestrel intrauterine devices, and 34% implants. Sexual functioning and satisfaction scores did not change over time. However, across methods, participants were more likely to report improvements to their sexual lives compared with baseline (χ P<.001). By 3 months, 40% (n=64) reported positive changes and 17% (n=27) negative changes. Positive sexual changes were associated with one's sense of control over pregnancy and one's ability to "let go" in sex. Negative sexual changes were largely attributable to increased vaginal bleeding.

Conclusion: Although new LARC users reported no measurable objective change in sexual function or satisfaction, a sizable minority reported perceived positive, method-related sexual changes.

Clinical trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT02734199.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Cohort Studies
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices*
  • Logistic Models
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Orgasm*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex*
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02734199