Nina was put on the Pill by her doctor for bad acne and to “regulate” her cycles. It was sold to her as a “convenience” but she suffered terrible side effects. When Nina went off the Pill her libido skyrocketed, her headaches stopped, her vaginal lubrication returned and she also felt less depressed, lost weight and had more energy.
We worked on improving her menstrual wellbeing through connecting her to a deeper knowledge of her hormonal cycles. Nina learnt how her moods, sex drive, sensitivity, emotional needs and orgasms were influenced by her hormones at each ‘season’ of her cycle. This greater awareness of her body helped her to understand why she felt so horny and happy sometimes and helped her respond to her different needs.
Soon, Nina no longer saw her menstruation as a problem that needed to be medically managed but something to be understood and worked with. This transformed her life and relationship.
Nina and her partner learnt natural fertility methods together in my therapy rooms. Her partner felt more involved in birth control choices and it opened up a new world of intimacy. Nina felt like the Pill had made her partner a “lazy lover”, in a hurry for only penis-in-vagina sex. Natural fertility helped them explore unlimited forms of sensuality and sexual expression on her fertile days.
Nina felt the Pill blocked her own capacity for deeper emotional intimacy and held her back from the rhythms of her own sexuality. Her partner said their relationship and sex life was better post-Pill than ever before.
When we talk about women and their cycles we usually discuss periods or pre-menstrual tension. What we don’t talk about is the delicious stages that women go throughout the month and the fertile ground for emotional transformation.
Ovulation is a wonderfully pleasurable time for many women but most oral contraceptives (OCs) suppress ovulation and testosterone production. Ovulation is when a woman’s oestrogen and testosterone peak that she is most fertile and ‘on heat’.
It’s the most likely time for women to have sex with strangers or a fling, wear brighter colours and more revealing clothes, be more confident, have a higher libido, need less foreplay, have more vaginal lubrication and be more sensitive to pleasure. Women’s orgasms can be off the Richter scale at this time. It’s when women can orgasm more often, easier and faster. Studies show that men unconsciously know when women are ovulating and find them more attractive.
The Pill biochemically induces a state similar to pregnancy in the body. Oral contraceptives reduce testosterone in a woman’s body and scarce attention has been paid to this important issue. Discontinuation rates from OCs are high – up to 50 per cent within the first year of use. Reasons listed are emotional, physical and sexual side effects. Studies show a significant percentage of women notice an obvious decrease in sexual arousal, desire and enjoyment when taking the Pill. This can last a long time after discontinuation.
Our culture sees women as responsible for fertility regulation yet attaches little importance to the sexual happiness of a woman on hormonal contraception. Women’s sexuality is complex, a fact a lot of OC’s studies dismiss as unimportant.
Interestingly, this dismissive attitude is never displayed when considering the negative effects of a possible male hormonal contraception on male sexuality.
Cat O Dowd
Sex Therapist, Relationship Counsellor, Art Therapist. www.creativesexpression.com