A woman in her underwear holding a grapefruit in front of her private parts.
Illustration by Marta Pucci

IUD Contraception and Sexual Desire: Is It Lowering Your Sex Drive?

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness

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 that women use.

One of the more popular ones is IUD contraception. This birth control method is a popular choice among women hoping to avoid using hormones to prevent pregnancy.

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 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 puts a stop to ovulation entirely. It can also control extremely heavy periods, thanks to the hormone that the device is releasing.

The FDA approved hormonal IUDs are Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta and Skyla. They differ in 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:

  • Lifestyle
  • Relationship problems
  • Medication
  • Mental health conditions
  • Stress levels
  • Societal expectations and social conditions
  • Medical conditions

These are just a few factors that can impact your sexual desire. However, researchers are still learning more about what exactly may lead to increased or decreased libido.

The trouble is, it's extremely difficult to measure. That's even more true for women. Currently, very little is known about female orgasm and female sexual desire. That can make it a bit of a mystery sometimes as to why one person has increased libido while another doesn't.

How an IUD affects your sex drive

So, now we know all about IUDs and we know all about libido. Let's talk about how the two are related.

While many traditional birth control methods involve hormones, an IUD typically doesn't. And, while you can choose to get an IUD with a progestin coating, that's not a requirement.

Hormonal birth control methods affect a woman's androgen levels, which are the male hormones responsible for their sex drive. Because IUDs don't release hormones in the same way that an oral contraceptive does, many times they don't throw a woman's androgens out of whack.

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 thanks to using progestin-coated IUDs that release localized hormones and thus affect the body differently.

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

While it's fairly uncommon for women to report decreased 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 a hormonal birth control method, 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. Your doctor will run tests and make sure that everything is working the way that it should.

The good news is that if you do feel your IUD is causing your sex life to be abnormal, you can very easily get the device removed! Part of what makes IUDs such a popular choice is that they're non-permanent birth control methods. If anything goes awry, your doctor can help you remove it.

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.

A few common methods of increasing your libido involve simple lifestyle changes and dietary tweaks. Here are a few that have helped women with IUDs in the past.

Eat better

You'll read one way of increasing your libido is by incorporating certain fruits or aphrodisiacs into your diet. Several fruits have been shown to be natural aphrodisiacs because they increase blood flow to the genitals. But overall, being healthy is the key to your body and mind working to the best of its ability.

Get more sleep

One of the biggest causes of decreased sexual desire is a lack of sleep. And unfortunately, our busy lifestyles often mean that we aren't getting the sleep that we need.

Taking naps whenever you get the opportunity and making sure you get a good night's sleep can be critical to ensuring you're able to get it on when you want to. Just remember, the better you sleep, the better you'll perform at your other bedtime activities.

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.

Many women only have libido issues with their IUD during the first few weeks after treatment. During this time, sex therapy can help you and your partner get used to your new contraceptive and feel confident with each other in the bedroom.

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. Download our app and get ready to Marvin Gaye again.

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