A Bitter Pill to Swallow: Hormonal Birth Control Can Cause Vaginal Dryness

hormonal birth control pill

The birth control pill is the preferred method of contraception for many women who want to enjoy sexual activity without the looming anxiety of unplanned pregnancy. According to the CDC,  12.6% of women in the US that use contraceptive methods use an oral contraceptive pill. Although the ability to regulate fertility is a godsend for many women, there is often a hormonal toll.

Spotting between periods, sore breasts, headaches, nausea, weight gain–these are all notorious consequences of taking hormonal birth control. Moreover, there are unquantifiable emotional symptoms: who doesn’t know a woman that just “doesn’t feel like herself” on the Pill?

Side Effects Of Birth Control Pill

Two little-discussed and supremely ironic side effects of the Pill are vaginal dryness and decreased libido.

It’s discouraging that the method to enjoy your sex life responsibly can create further barriers to “get it on.” But it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Between three and five percent of women on low-dose birth control pills experience vaginal dryness (link to source).  

In one study, the proportion of women who reported vaginal dryness after 3 menstrual cycles as a result of the Pill varied from 12.7% to 30.4% of the participants. This variance depended on the dosage. The pills with the lowest synthetic estrogen had the highest reports of vaginal dryness. In a 2013 review of studies published since the 1907s, 1 in 10 women reported a decreased libido on the Pill.

Whether these symptoms are obscured due to the small proportion of women who suffer from them or the taboo of talking about female sexuality, it’s important to understand why it happens and how to fix it!

Why Can Birth Cause Control Vaginal Dryness Or Low Libido?

The reason for vaginal dryness as a result of the Pill is low estrogen.

The Pill simulates the second half of the menstrual cycle, during which progesterone is high and estrogen is low. Estrogen is the MVP when it comes to the biological mechanics of sex. Estrogen “helps to keep the vagina moist, maintain thickness of the vaginal lining, and keep the tissue flexible (also called elasticity).

The Pill’s disruptions to sexy time don’t end with your body, but also your mind. There are innumerable factors that influence libido. However, women who experience decreased libido due to the pill can thank decreased testosterone for that.

The Pill decreases the production of testosterone by the ovaries and increases the production of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) in the liver. SHBG binds to testosterone and prevents it from being circulated throughout the body.

After all this, it may feel like the pill is pointless if you neither have the drive or the proper lubrication for sexual activity. Switching to a low estrogen or progestin only pill can solve these problems, but potentially cause a new hormonal cocktail of symptoms.

What Can You Do To Get Relief From Vaginal Dryness

There are remedies to vaginal dryness for women that don’t want to part with the convenience and safety of the hormonal birth control pill. Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers can moisturize and soothe the area without the use of hormones. Lubricants provide immediate relief by reducing friction during sex, while moisturizers may be recommended long term to promote healthy vaginal tissue.

Mia Vita Personal Lubricant & Moisturizer and Mia Vita Intimate Skin Moisturizer are available without a prescription, made without hormones from hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which hydrate and protect delicate tissues.

Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in beauty products, but it has benefits that go beyond moisturizing and plumping. By drawing water into cells, it promotes cell health. FemmePharma uses pharmaceutical-grade hyaluronic acid and a formula that clings to vulvar and vaginal tissue, so there’s no leaking or dripping. In other words, it stays put so there’s no mess — and you get better results.

About the author
FemmePharma started as a pharmaceutical research and development company more than 20 years ago. We’ve been reinventing women’s healthcare ever since.