I could probably throw this into the category of “things I wish I knew then that I know now.”
In my first marriage, I struggled tremendously with low sex drive. I was on hormonal birth control at the time.
What I didn’t know is that hormonal birth control to varying degrees can impact sexual desire. I was on the pill, but obviously there are other forms of hormonal birth control.
Now I will say that this has been researched more extensively in recent years, and there is debate as to whether there is a correlation between hormonal birth control and sexual desire. Does it increase desire, decrease it or have no effect at all? There is not consensus.
All hormonal birth control is not created equal. They can vary in which hormones they contain, as well as the amounts of those hormones. And obviously they vary in how they are administered, whether it be an implant, injection, pill, hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), vaginal ring, or patch.
If you use hormonal birth control or are considering it, please read up on the various forms, study the pros and cons, including the ethical ones, and talk to your health care provider. From a theological and/or biblical perspective, some people believe some forms of hormonal birth control can be abortive and/or that any form of birth control is against God’s will.
Generally speaking, be an advocate for your health, your personal beliefs, and your sexual intimacy.
I’m not a doctor, so what I’m sharing today is my personal perspective.
I believe being on the pill in my first marriage lowered my sex drive. This, of course, had a negative impact on my marriage overall.
The pill prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation (the release of the egg), which means the God-designed desire for sex that happens right before and during ovulation may also decrease.
I definitely believe my experience was one where my sexual desire was very flat. I don’t recall in my first marriage ever experiencing either a natural urge to have sex or an awareness of increased vaginal lubrication—both of which are common right before and during ovulation. For a woman whose monthly cycle is regular, ovulation happens about 14 days before her period begins.
I in no way want to minimize the profound discouragement so many couples experience with fertility, so please hear my heart. I am simply trying to share in light of my post today that God’s general design of reproduction is that a woman’s body prepares each month for pregnancy.
The stage is set, so to speak, with various physical changes, like an increase in vaginal lubrication, a rise in basal body temperature due to higher progesterone levels, the release of an egg and an increase in a woman’s desire for sex.
Basically, everything in the woman’s body becomes sperm-friendly.
Sure, lots of things impact how this all plays out in an individual woman’s life. For example, some mothers who are nursing full time will not see a return of their cycle until they begin to wean their baby. Also, if there are marriage struggles, the lowered sex drive that comes with this low marital satisfaction can override any natural sex drive. And, of course, some health conditions and medications (besides birth control) can impact sex drive as well.
When I remarried, I told my husband there was no way I would be on hormonal birth control of any kind. I have never regretted that decision. We used condoms until we decided to have our son and then after his birth until my husband had a vasectomy.
In 17 years of marriage, I have had a fairly high sex drive. I can definitely tell that it is significantly higher when I ovulate. I have been fortunate to always have a regular cycle, so my heightened sexual desire in our marriage has always been quite predictable. I am textbook, so to speak.
I have not gone through menopause yet, so I cannot say how this may impact my sexual desire. Some women say their sexual desire goes way down during and after menopause, whereas other women say their sexual desire stayed the same or even increased. The increase in desire could be in large part due to there no longer being a risk of an unplanned pregnancy and/or being at a stage in life for some couples that is more conducive to more sex (no kids at home, better financial stability, more time to nurture their marriage, etc.)
Whether you are a husband or a wife reading this, have you ever given much thought to how a wife’s monthly cycle impacts sexual desire and arousal?
Another question to explore would be, “Have you considered how you can make the most of sexual intimacy when her body may naturally be hungering for sex?”
I so wish that as a young wife in my first marriage, someone would have had a heart-to-heart conversation with me about the biology of sex. Sure, I knew how babies were made. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how a married couple can best work with God’s design as they build a strong sexual bond in their marriage.
My first husband and I were quite clueless. There’s so much more I know and appreciate now that I didn’t then. It’s really too bad, too, because I think of what he and I missed out on when we were in our 20s—a time of life full of way more energy and flexibility!
I am humbly grateful that in my current marriage, from the beginning we have paid close attention to my cycle. It has blessed our marriage, as we have savored those times of the month when my sexual desire and arousal are hypercharged!
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