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Birth Control Options With the Fewest Sexual Side Effects

Some birth control methods may cause sexual side effects, including reduced libido, difficulty with arousal or a lack of lubrication. While not having sex is certainly a reliable method of contraception, if your birth control method is causing you to abstain, it’s likely time for a change.

Fertility Awareness Method

The fertility awareness method relies upon a careful understanding of your menstrual cycle by watching cervical fluid and taking the resting basal body temperature each morning before rising. During fertile periods, intercourse is avoided, alternate sexual activities are chosen or a barrier method is used. The first seven days of the menstrual cycle are typically infertile, as are days following ovulation. No additional contraceptive is used on these days. There are no side effects to fertility awareness; however, some couples may find that abstaining during fertile periods is difficult or burdensome.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods, including condoms, diaphragms, sponges and cervical caps, are free of hormones. While there are no lasting sexual side effects to these methods, they may impact sexuality. Condoms may briefly interrupt sex play, but putting on condoms can be worked into sex in a fun and sensual way. Diaphragms, cervical caps and sponges may all be inserted well before sex and left in through multiple sexual acts, reducing the interruption to your activities. If you have latex or spermicide allergies, consider polyurethane condoms or the polyurethane female condom with a traditional lubricant rather than a spermicide.


There are two types of IUDs on the market. The copper IUD has no hormonal component but may cause longer, heavier and more painful periods. For some women, this may be a significant impediment to a fulfilling sex life. The alternative to the copper IUD is the Mirena intrauterine system. This device delivers a very low dose of progesterone and has a much lower risk of sexual side effects, including reduced libido, than most hormonal contraceptives, including birth control pills. In most cases, the Mirena reduces menstrual bleeding.

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