anonymous on September 1, 2011

Can birth control pills make orgasms more difficult to achieve?

I'm 16 and I’ve been on birth control for a long time. I recently started taking a certain brand, and all of a sudden my ability to orgasm went away...but I had been able to masturbate to orgasm before with no problems. So I decided to switch pills again to see if that would fix the problem...but nothing’s changed, even though I’ve been on it for almost a whole pack. Are birth control pills ruining my orgasms? Will I ever get my orgasms back?

answered by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on September 1, 2011

Thanks for sharing your questions. I’ll do my best to offer you some helpful information.

First, you’re right: some birth control pills can make it more difficult to achieve orgasm. It seems ironic that something you take to have safer sex can make it more difficult to enjoy sex, doesn’t it? Don’t despair, though. There’s hope...

Like other hormonal birth control methods, birth control pills provide a small dose of hormones to the body every day. And sometimes, the hormones in birth control pills don’t work well with a woman’s particular body chemistry, disrupting her ability to orgasm.

The good news is that your doctor can help you adjust medications and dosages. There are many different formulations of hormonal birth control options. Each type has a slightly different amount and mix of hormones. For example, some types provide the hormones estrogen and progestin while others only provide progestin. There are also different forms of hormonal birth control, including pills you take every day, a patch you replace each week, a ring that you insert once a month…or even shots you take every few months.

Talk to your doctor…that’s the best thing to do if you think your birth control is controlling your orgasm. Describe to your doctor your difficulty achieving orgasm, along with any other issues you might be having concerning sex. From there, based on your reaction to the types of birth control you’ve tried so far, your doctor may prescribe a different type of birth control, and/or a different dosage of hormones.

One more thing I’d like to mention, just in case it’s not already on your radar…

Birth control methods help prevent pregnancy…but they don't protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). To help prevent catching an STD from a sexual partner or multiple partners, it’s a good idea to use latex condoms and get tested for common STDs on a regular basis. Why? Because most STDs don’t show any obvious signs or symptoms right away. You can learn more about STD risks, prevention and testing in our Expert Guide to STD Basics.

Thanks so much for writing, and I hope that you and your doctor soon get to the root cause of your current inability to reach orgasm

Related info:

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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