Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1369–1375 | Cite as

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

  • S. Craig Roberts
  • Kelly D. Cobey
  • Kateřina Klapilová
  • Jan Havlíček
Letter to the Editor

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...


Major Histocompatibility Complex Oral Contraceptive Sexual Desire Hormonal Contraception Major Histocompatibility Complex Allele 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



SCR is supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. JH and KK are supported by the Charles University Research Centre UNCE 204004 and KK is also supported by the Grant GACR P407/12/P819.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Craig Roberts
    • 1
  • Kelly D. Cobey
    • 2
  • Kateřina Klapilová
    • 3
  • Jan Havlíček
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Natural SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  4. 4.Department of ZoologyCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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