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Hormonal contraception can stifle sexual arousal, limit lubrication and decrease the number of orgasms in women, suggests new research from Indiana University.

The study of 1,101 sexually active women found those using hormonal forms of contraception including the Pill, patch, ring and shot reported experiencing less pleasure and subsequently less sex than women employing non-hormonal methods such as condoms, diaphragms and the controversial withdrawal method.

While the Pill provides peace of mind for many women around reproductive control, the researchers suggest they keep their options open if they're experiencing a diminished sex life.

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"Contraception in general is a wonderful way for women to plan their families," lead researcher Nicole Smith, a doctoral student and project coordinator at the school's Center for Sexual Health Promotion, said in a statement.

"It's something women are often on for as many as 30 years or more; it plays a huge part in their life. If they're experiencing these negative effects, they might stop using contraception correctly or altogether. They need to know that there are options, such as lubricants or other sexual enhancement products that may help to alleviate some of the negative effects they are experiencing."

The research, presented at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in Washington this week, suggests these women experiment with different forms of birth control. But as Erin Gloria Ryan at feminist blog Jezebel warned, skipping between methods has been associated with its own setbacks, including mood swings and erratic menstrual cycles, aka "the dreaded Eternal Period."

The Indiana researchers argue there's been a lack of interest in making sex more pleasurable for women on the Pill. They hazard that's a double standard.

"A great effort has been made to make condoms more pleasurable for men," the lead author said. "But you don't hear about this same effort going toward reducing the negative impact of contraception on women's sexual functioning."

What has your experience been on the Pill, patch, ring or shot?

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About the Author

Zosia More

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