, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1369-1375
Date: 04 Jun 2013

An Evolutionary Approach Offers a Fresh Perspective on the Relationship Between Oral Contraception and Sexual Desire

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Concern about the impact of oral contraceptive (OC) use on women’s sexual functioning, particularly lowered sexual desire (or libido), has been expressed for almost as long as OCs have been available. Despite numerous studies over several decades, however, we still do not know the underlying mechanism for negative effects nor can we predict which women will suffer from them (Sanders, Graham, Bass, & Bancroft, 2001).

The research has consistently produced mixed evidence, of two kinds. First, there is mixed evidence across studies: some report negative associations between desire and OC use, others find no effect, and still others report positive effects (for recent reviews, see Burrows, Basha, & Goldstein, 2012; Davis & Castano, 2004; Pastor, Holla, & Chmel, 2013; Schaffir, 2006). Second, within their respective samples, studies also consistently report considerable individual variation in women’s experience: relatively large proportions of women experience a marked increase or decrease ...