Oral Contraceptives And Sexuality In University Women

June 26, 1996

Oral Contraceptives and Sexuality in University Women

June 25, 1996 Contact: Ligeia Polidora

Oral Contraceptives and Sexuality in University Women:
San Francisco State University Study Reveals Surprises

A San Francisco State University study on the effects of oral contraceptives on sexual interest and behavior of university women revealed unexpected and unprecedented results. The study suggests that women who take a particular type of pill, triphasic Orthonovum 7/7/7, enjoy greater sexual desire and satisfaction than monophasic Orthonovum 1/35 pill users and non pill-users alike.

Published in the psychology journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, the study, by SFSU psychology professor Norma McCoy and associate researcher Joseph Matyas, analyzed and rated the responses of 364 SFSU women between the ages of 18 to 26 who answered the McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire. Respondents were asked to rate various sexual experiences ranging from frequency and enjoyment of intercourse, orgasm, and masturbation, to satisfaction with partner, level of sexual interest and vaginal lubrication, and frequency of sexual thoughts and fantasies. The women were asked to list the type of birth control they used, but were not informed that pill use would be considered a variable in analyzing their responses.

McCoy's study revealed that, contrary to her prediction that pill-users experience a lower level of sexual interest and response than sexually active non-users, the data showed triphasic Orthonovum users enjoyed a significantly greater frequency of sexual thoughts and fantasies and level of sexual interest than sexually active non-users.

"Given the pill's suppressive action on hormones, particularly on androgen and estrogen, which influence sexual interest and response, I was totally surprised by the significant differences between each pill's effect on sexuality," says McCoy. "What I wasn't surprised by in this study was that monophasic pill users reported less vaginal lubrication, which I had predicted."

Although McCoy is quick to point out that there are clear differences between the sexualities of women who choose to use the pill and those who don't, the fact that women who use triphasic versus monophasic pills experience higher levels of sexual interest and satisfaction clearly suggests a physiological basis for the difference between each pills' influence on sexual behavior, versus merely psychological factors.

"Understanding and testing the clinical aspects of these findings is the next step," says McCoy, who's Female Sexuality Questionnaire is being used in Europe as a "quality of life" scale by French pharmaceutical companies. "We need to show, once and for all, just how the pill affects a woman's sexuality."

For a copy of the study, contact:
Merrik Bush, Office of Public Affairs (415) 338-1665.

San Francisco State University

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