Contraceptives that include the pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring work as tools to prevent pregnancy. Before the founding of contraceptives, people tried different methods including withdrawal, periodic abstinence, or some old forms of condoms. Yet those methods were mostly ineffective.
It’s until 1960 that the first oral contraceptive get administrative acceptance. Though they proved effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, but hormonal contraceptives has always been subject to a lot of controversy concerning their side effects on woman health including her sexual functions.
A lot of scientific studies have tried to shed light on effects of hormonal contraceptives on woman sexuality. This is the case of new research carried by a group of scientists from university of Copenhagen, Denmark. The study tried to investigate relation between combined hormonal contraception and women’s sexual function.
Researchers of the study which is published in Obstetrics & Gynecology: An International Journal emphasized on the type of progestin in the combined hormonal contraceptives. For that purpose researchers questioned a sample of “252 healthy, sexually active women aged 18 to 35”. Study’s questions focused on “Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS), and questions about contraception use.”
Scientists started with the hypothesis that combined hormonal contraceptives have effects on sexual functionality. But they noticed that “CHC use was in general not correlated with a higher level of sexual problems or sexual distress”. However it does not mean that there are no effects at all.
Researchers stated that effects on woman sexuality are noticed in women using hormonal contraceptives with formulations containing anti-androgenic progestins. “when stratifying the analyses according to the type of progestin, women using CHC formulations containing anti-androgenic progestins more often reported sexual problems and sexual distress than women using CHC with other progestins” researchers discovered.
What are anti-androgenic progestins?
Anti-androgenic progestins known as Antiandrogens or also called androgen antagonists were first found in 1960s. The Antiandrogens are therapeutic drugs, and they function by blocking the biological effects of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. Antiandrogens are most frequently used to treat prostate cancer for men and for women they are used to reduce levels of male hormones that cause symptoms of hyperandrogenism.
Researchers stated that different other factors are related to women’s sexual function, and “age, children living at home, alcohol consumption, and smoking were not correlated”. What the scientists noticed is that “a stable relationship is a known influential factor”. What they mean by long a stable relationship is 3 or more years contrary to a short term relation which they said is not correlated with sexual problems.
Researchers discussed the correlation of long term relationship with sexual problems and sexual distress. They stated that “a stable relationship could have a positive effect because of greater sexual activity in the initial stages, but have a negative effect later in the relationship derived from worrying about partner satisfaction and other relationship problems.”
Though the scientists found that combined hormonal contraceptives have effects on woman sexual function, but they stated that “Some women may be more sensitive than others to the hormonal changes induced by CHC… The negative effects of CHC are possibly most important when combined with other factors that negatively influence sexual function.”
Combined hormonal contraceptives are one of the most used types of contraception for their effectiveness. Researchers of the study said that these study’s results should not be a concern for woman users of these contraceptives. Instead scientists said “However, if a woman using CHC complains of sexual problems, we would suggest a change in CHC formulation to a CHC without an anti-androgenic progestin or to a non-HC.”