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Keywords:

  • Contraception;
  • Female Sexual Pleasure;
  • Orgasm;
  • Vaginal Lubrication;
  • Vaginal Pain;
  • Sexual Function;
  • Sexual Behavior

Abstract

Introduction

Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintentional, unplanned, or mistimed. Most unplanned pregnancies result from inconsistent, incorrect, or nonuse of a contraceptive method. Diminished sexual function and pleasure may be a barrier to using hormonal contraception.

Aim

This study explores sexual function and behaviors of women in relation to the use of hormonal vs. nonhormonal methods of contraception.

Methods

Data were collected as part of an online health and sexuality study of women.

Main Outcome Measures

Main outcomes variables assess frequencies in two domains: (i) sexual function (proportion of sexual events with experiences of pain or discomfort, arousal, contentment and satisfaction, pleasure and enjoyment, lubrication difficulty, and orgasm) and (ii) sexual behavior (number of times engaged in sexual activity, proportion of sexual events initiated by the woman, and proportion of sexual events for which a lubricant was used). Sociodemographic variables and contraceptive use were used as sample descriptors and correlates. The recall period was the past 4 weeks.

Results

The sample included 1,101 women with approximately half (n = 535) using a hormonal contraceptive method exclusively or a combination of a hormonal and nonhormonal method, and about half (n = 566) using a nonhormonal method of contraception exclusively. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the relation of hormonal contraceptive use to each of the dependent variables. Women using a hormonal contraceptive method experienced less frequent sexual activity, arousal, pleasure, and orgasm and more difficulty with lubrication even when controlling for sociodemographic variables.

Conclusions

This study adds to the literature on the potential negative sexual side effects experienced by many women using hormonal contraception. Prospective research with diverse women is needed to enhance the understanding of potential negative sexual side effects of hormonal contraceptives, their prevalence, and possible mechanisms. Clinical and counseling implications are discussed. Smith NK, Jozkowski KN, and Sanders SA. Hormonal contraception and female pain, orgasm and sexual pleasure. J Sex Med 2014;11:462–470.