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Q & A with Dr. Cullins: Birth Control

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    I've been using the shot for more than a year, and I'm not anywhere near as wet as I used to be. I am only 22 years old, and the only time I get wet now is if I am in the middle of extremely stimulating intercourse. I used to be wet just at the thought of stimulation. What can I do? Will it ever come back?

    Hormonal methods of birth control may affect a woman's sex drive in different ways. Many women who use them feel less inhibited sexually because they don't have to worry about unintended pregnancy. Some women, however, find that the dose of hormones used in a method may inhibit their sexual desire and/or arousal. Inhibited sexual desire or arousal may, in turn, affect the way a woman lubricates. It may help to change the dose of hormones by choosing a different method — patch, pill, ring, or shot — or changing from one combined oral contraceptive to another. Many women choose non-hormonal methods, such as the IUD or fertility awareness-based methods, to avoid changes in sex drive.

    Changes in sexual arousal and lubrication patterns may also be associated with other events in a woman's life. Having a new sex partner, or being with the same partner for many years, may affect the patterns of all the stages of a woman's sexual response cycle: desire, arousal, excitement, and orgasm. Various health conditions — including depression and diabetes, for example — may also affect her sex drive. Age itself also has an effect. In fact, during perimenopause and menopause, many, if not most, women experience vaginal dryness.

    Women who would like increased lubrication should not be shy about using over-the-counter lubricants to enhance sexual pleasure. There are hundreds of products on the market to choose from. There are only two important cautions: Oil-based lubricants can damage latex condoms. Silicone-based lubricants can damage barrier contraceptives made of silicone, such as FemCap, and a wide variety of sex toys that are also made of silicone. So, if you use sex toys or latex condoms, you won't go wrong if you purchase a water-based lubricant.

Published: 09.25.05 | Updated: 08.08.07

This column is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have a medical problem, please call toll-free 1-800-230-PLAN for an appointment with the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

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