So the Pill celebrates its 40th birthday this year. Big anniversaries like this always make me introspective, prone to ponder the big questions, like “Where would we be if this wonder drug had never come along?” Yes siree, The Pill revolutionized the world of 1960’s sexuality much like has impacted ours today. It took away the overriding fear of unwanted pregnancy, and gave women the freedom to engage in recreational or relational sex. But before you blow out the candles on the cake, wishing as I do to be fetus free for another month, there’s a new development that I need to make you aware of.
A new study has recently been released that finds The Pill responsible for permanently diminishing a woman’s sex-drive. Yes, that means forever. Why, “This can’t be true!!??” you shout. Sure, you knew the Pill could cause weight gain and blood clots’ leading to a heart attack or a stroke, but that was just your health. But not being able to come because of it? Well now, that’s just wrong.
Chinn Urology researchers studied 125 women who were all patients of the local sex dysfunction clinic. Of these women: · 23 had never taken the Pill · 40 used to be Pill takers · 62 were currently taking the Pill It has long been known that women, who are currently taking the Pill, have lower levels of testosterone and higher levels of SHBG, (two hormones that affect a woman’s sex drive). However this study also showed that though these elevated levels diminished slightly when women stopped taking The Pill, they remained higher than the base-line levels found in women who had never taken The Pill. 3-7x higher. Separate studies have shown that women who have higher SHBG levels are less likely to reach orgasm, have a higher reported incidence of pain during intercourse, and lowered sexual desire overall.
So why are we finding out this vital information now, 40 years after The Pill’s introduction? Is this the first time anyone gave thought to the long-term effects of the pill on women’s sex lives? Why aren’t women in general told about the full nature of drugs’ side effects before they are approved for consumption? This isn’t the first time that FDA approved therapies have proven harmful to women. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was found to increase heart attacks and Depo Provera has been found to promote bone loss after a certain amount of time. The fact that this focus of long term studies weren’t considered prior to the approval of these drugs stands in stark contrast to the quest to develop a male birth control pill. Numerous versions of the Male Pill were sent back to the drawing board when they were found to lower men’s sex drive. This difference highlights our society’s schizophrenic attitude toward sexuality. We embrace a man’s libido but underrate a woman’s.
But it’s my opinion that whatever wrongs may have been done to us, perhaps we should not be focusing our attention on the 40 years we’ve waited for this information to come to light, but instead on the implications of this research. It has been pointed out to me by various medical colleagues that virtually every drug we put into our body affects our sexual response cycle. We may not think of our every-day drugs affecting our libido, but it’s true. Our pill popping culture is often ignorant of this because such side-effects are so insipid. They don’t wash over us like a tsunami, but rather seep into us slowly like a leaking facet that overflows its sink. Drip by drip it goes unnoticed until finally you walk into the room and there is a flood all over the floor!
You don’t have to give up on your sexuality though. Having myself struggled against the sexual side effects of I know that it is possible to have a healthy sexual appetite even while burdened with modern pharmacological.s’. Intentional intimacy; i.e. scheduled time for sexual exploration is one strategy to combat the creepy malaise in the bedroom. So to all you pill poppers everywhere, don’t despair. You can reclaim your sexuality.
So, faced with this new knowledge, what should we do about our dilemma? Shall we give up entirely on hormonal birth control? Assuredly no. But we must now embrace the decision before us. Each one of us should ask ourselves the following question: “Which is more important to me: A full satisfying sex life or remaining pregnancy free for another month?” We must pay attention to our bodies. We must ask our doctors questions about the medications they want to place us on. Don’t be embarrassed to say “How will this affect my sex life Doc?” If you’re feeling ambitious, you can check out Sexual Pharmacology, a book that allows you to research the sexual side effects of prescribed drugs. And, as is inevitable, when a side effect occurs you must TALK to your doctors about the pro’s and con’s of such a course of treatment, because it might not be the right drug for you.
You don’t have to endure life with a diminished sex drive. There are many other options, so research the facts. Ask questions. Decide if this is a drug you are comfortable taking BEFORE you pop it in your mouth. The candles on the cake may be lit for the Pill’s birthday, but knowing exactly what you are wishing for will make it easier to close your eyes and blow.