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IUD Contraception and Sexual Desire: Lower Sex Drive?

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
6/1/2021
Last updated:
7/25/2022
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
6/1/2021
Last updated:
7/25/2022

Many people have talked about the connection between hormonal birth control and sex drive, but what about other forms of contraception? After all, there are so many different forms of birth control available. Birth control pills are the second most popular form of birth control (just behind sterilization) (1), but there are plenty of reasons to choose a different one.

One of the prominent alternatives to birth control pills is IUD contraception. This birth control method is a popular choice among women hoping to avoid using hormones to prevent pregnancy, when they choose a copper-coated IUD that doesn't release hormones. Another reason for choosing an IUD contraception is that it's more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, and they generally last for a long time (5-10 years). Besides, you can't forget to use them like with the pill.

The question is, how does an IUD affect libido? If you're interested in learning what an IUD does in the bedroom, keep reading. Let's talk about what to expect if you choose to use this birth control method.

How IUD contraception works

To better understand what effect an IUD has on your libido, let's talk about what it is and how it works. Doing so will make it clear why an IUD can affect your libido.

An IUD, or an intrauterine device, is a t-shaped instrument that's inserted into the uterus. There are two different types of IUDs that people can choose from.

Copper coated IUD

An IUD is typically made out of plastic and is coated in copper. The copper-coated device will make it difficult for a sperm to fertilize the egg. If an egg does get fertilized somehow, the device will make it difficult for the egg to become implanted in the uterine lining. An example of a copper-coated IUD that's FDA approved for use in the United States is ParaGard, which is supposed to last you for up to 10 years. In practice, it's been found to be effective for 12 to even 20 years.

Progestin IUD (Hormonal IUD)

Sometimes, the IUD may have a special coating that releases progestin, instead of the copper coating. These devices are different in that they thin the uterine lining and cause the cervical mucus to be thicker.

Because the device is releasing progestin, it can put a stop to ovulation entirely. It can also control extremely heavy periods, thanks to the hormone that the device is releasing. Some people won't have periods at all when they use this IUD. However, other people will still have periods. Unfortunately, it's difficult to say beforehand what the impact will be on your body.

As well as hormonal IUDs, there are several different types of hormonal contraceptives on the market as a method of birth control, and each of these affects your sex drive in different ways. A few of the more common ones are: implant contraception, Femodene, and Loestrin 20. Depending on which of these you take, you might experience a change in your sex drive, your menstrual bleeding, or your menstrual cycle.

The FDA-approved hormonal IUDs are Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. They differ in the length of approved effective protection, where Mirena and Kyleena are FDA approved to work for up to 5 years, Liletta is approved for up to 6 years and Skyla is approved for up to 3 years of use. However, in practice, it's found that Mirena and Liletta are effective for 7 years. Since Mirena is the most popular one, we often get the question: How to increase libido while on Mirena? To answer that question, we'll first talk about how libido works. It doesn't matter which IUD you have for this to make sense!

How libido works

Now that we've talked about how an IUD works, let's take a look at how libido works . Then, we can put the two together.

Libido is very dependent on each unique individual. Everyone's libido is a little bit different but is influenced by factors such as:

 

 

These are just a few of the many factors that can impact your sexual desire. Our own Principal Researcher and Expert Advisor Dr. Laura Vowels published a study in July 2021 that goes more in-depth on the most important factors for predicting sexual desire . She also published a study on the contextual factors that affect sexual desire in women . Because there are lots of factors, it means that they vary for different people. One of the first exercises we give you in your therapy plan in our app is listing the factors that you think impact your sexual desire. If that sounds good to you, take the assessment so we can put a relevant plan together and get you started on your 14-day trial.

How an IUD affects your sex drive

So, now we know all about IUDs and we know (a little bit) about libido. Let's talk about how the two are related and how the IUD might affect your sexual functioning.

While many traditional birth control methods involve hormones that affect your whole body, an IUD typically doesn't. The hormonal IUD is probably the most common nowadays, but the hormones (progestogen) it releases are more localized in your uterus, rather than affecting your whole body. The copper-coated IUD does not release hormones at all, even.

In conclusion, the progestin IUD doesn't release hormones in the same way that an oral contraceptive does.

Because of this, some women report no change in their libido after getting an IUD. They may not notice any difference between their sex drive before getting the device inserted and afterward.

However, some women actually note increased libido after getting an IUD. This may be for different reasons, both biological and more contextual. For example, if you don't have to worry about getting pregnant anymore, that might have an effect on libido, feeling less stressed about sex in general. It could also be about switching from a different birth control method that did affect your sexual desire because of the hormones in them.

In fact, the hormonal IUD has been associated with increased sexual desire, decreased sexual pain, and lower levels of sexual dysfunction, compared to sexual functioning before starting on the IUD. (2, 3)

What to do if your IUD is negatively affecting your sex drive

While it's fairly uncommon for women to report a decrease in libido after getting an IUD, this can still happen from time to time. If that's you, the good news is that there is plenty that you can do!

For one, speaking with your healthcare provider is a great way to help you figure out what may be going on. Typically, if you're not using another type of hormonal contraceptive, it shouldn't be the birth control that's causing libido issues.

When that's the case, you may need to take a look at what else could be going on. You can ask your doctor to run tests to make sure that everything is working the way that it should. Your sexual health is part of your overall health, so take it seriously as you would with any other health issue. If you find it awkward to talk to your doctor about sex, we've got some tips for you.

Boosting your libido naturally

If you've spoken with your healthcare provider and are still struggling with libido and your IUD, there are a few things you can do to treat it. The good news is, there are many natural and non-invasive remedies that you can use to get your libido back to where it should be.

There's a good chance that there's nothing wrong with your body, but that there is something else that suppresses your sexual desire. If you suspect this is the case, we recommend you to take our assessment to find out what your situation is. Based on your answers, we will put together a relevant plan to start your journey towards better sexual wellbeing. If you want some more information on sex therapy, have a look at our complete guide on sex therapy.

Try Sensate Focus

Sensate Focus is a therapeutic technique that has helped millions of couples all over the world. It works by refocusing your mind onto your own sensory perceptions and sensuality, instead of goal-oriented behavior or anxious thoughts. It's the core method used in Blueheart, designed by expert therapists.

Improving your relationship can improve your libido

Sometimes, it's not your diet or your birth control that's affecting your sex drive. It's your relationship that's causing SDD (or Sexual Desire Discrepancy).

Whether your IUD is making you feel self-conscious during sex or you just feel uncomfortable with the device, talking to your partner is key. Good communication can help you to feel more at ease in the bedroom.

It's not always easy to talk to your partner about what's going on. In these cases, you may find that you benefit from speaking with a sex therapist. A sex therapist can help you and your partner open up and address what's going on.

In a typical sex therapy session, you'll sit down and have an open and honest discussion about what's going on. It can be a great opportunity for you to explain to your partner how you're feeling.

Don't let your IUD negatively affect your sex life

Just because you use the IUD contraception doesn't mean that it has to negatively affect your sex life. In fact, with the right steps, you and your partner can both feel good about your intimate times together.

Whether you choose to use natural remedies to fight sex drive issues or you'd prefer to visit a sex therapist, be sure to speak with your doctor about what's going on. It's always important to rule out any underlying medical conditions first. If you're suspecting a different reason for your low libido, take a look at our comprehensive guide on low libido causes. Now, if you're ready to get your sex life back to what it was, check out Blueheart. Our app provides couples with an at-home sex drive therapy app that they can use to get back in touch with sex.

Take the assessment to find out what you could do to start your journey toward better sexual wellbeing.

1. Daniels K, Abma JC. Current contraceptive status among women aged 15–49: United States, 2015–2017. NCHS Data Brief, no 327. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db327.htm
2.Bastianelli C, Farris M, Benagiano G. Use of the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system, quality of life and sexuality. Experience in an Italian family planning center. Contraception. 2011 Oct 1;84(4):402-8.
3. Skrzypulec V, Drosdzol A. Evaluation of quality of life and sexual functioning of women using levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine contraceptive system–Mirena. Coll Antropol. 2008 Dec 1;32(4):1059-68.
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