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HOW PCOS Impacts Your Sex Life, and What You Can Do About It



PCOS is a leading reproductive health challenge for women globally. Most of us know that PCOS can make a woman infertile or can cause sub-fertility.

But, how many are even aware of one little-mentioned issue that affects maybe more women with PCOS than even infertility- poor sexual response and a lowering of sexual desire or libido.

It’s no secret- women with PCOS don’t enjoy sex as much as women without PCOS.

And this is because, they suffer from pain during sex, vaginal dryness and a lesser number of orgasms and sub-normal desire to get sexual than seen in non-PCOS women.

These issues are alarming as they can have multiple repercussions on a woman’s health- emotional as well as physical.

But, what is perhaps more alarming is the fact that medical experts don’t know enough about the impact of PCOS on a woman’s sex life as not many seminal studies on the  PCOS-sex link have been done so far.

PCOS is...

As we know, PCOS involves a cluster of symptoms- ovarian cysts, infertility, no periods or irregular periods, more hair on face and chest, obesity and weight gain, baldness on the head, acne- you name it.

These happen because women with PCOS secrete more androgens or male hormones inside their bodies and this can affect the way they look as well as their self- image as sexual beings.

These are some of the PCOS symptoms that are the ones that are physically expressed but there are some very serious internal disorders that PCOS can cause like hypertension and heart problems, as well as insulin resistance and diabetes.

Decoding the PCOS-Sex link

PCOS can also affect a woman's sex drive in unexpected ways. If you are a woman with PCOS who’s been bothered by problems with her sex life such as reduced satisfaction, diminished desire, pain or any other problem during the last few months or so, then it’s time to decode this important relationship between PCOS and sex so that you can understand the dynamic and seek help for it.

PCOS impacts your sex drive in the following different ways.

  1. Psychological issues

Mood, general well-being, self-esteem, and past sexual experiences can all lower libido in women as we already have a higher risk for problems with sexual desire and function as compared to men.

A woman with PCOS, however, has a shitload of extra issues to challenge her sexual well-being.

Body image plays a big part in a woman’s sexual response and if she is overweight with a ‘masculine’ shape, with acne and excessive body hair, it’s going to shut her body down for sexual pleasure and this is what happens a lot.

A number of research studies have also found that women with PCOS are less satisfied when it comes to their sex lives. These studies also prove that weight gain, excess body hair, and acne are indeed the ones that are the most toxic to self-image in most women with PCOS.

These body image issues also impact relationships.

Depression and anxiety have also been found to be more common among women with PCOS and these are also major sexual desire killers, as we well know.

There is ample evidence to suggest PCOS is linked with depression, which in turn leads to a low sex drive. Likewise, PCOS often results in obesity which can cause fatigue, sleepiness, and stress—all factors in low libido.

What can you do if you are going through a low-self image phase due to PCOS?  

According to psychologists, you should connect with your body in ways that make you feel attractive and comfortable, whether that means taking a dance class, start exercising more, or doing a group movement-based activity, not just to lose weight but to experience your body in different ways.

  1. Medications for managing PCOS

    Women with PCOS have lowered fertility and have anovulatory, irregular periods. They are thus prescribed birth control pills to normalize their cycle.

    The women who take birth control pills to regulate their periods may experience a drop in sex drive- about 15% of women taking oral contraceptives report decreased libidos, whether or not they have PCOS, according to research. 

    But other medications women with PCOS may be taking, can affect sex drive too like medications for coexisting illnesses like diabetes and hypertension.

    Metformin, a common medicine for increasing insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS is the only medicine that has actually been shown to increase sexual desire in women.

    We suggest that you get info from your doctor about all potential side effects of meds that you are taking for PCOS and other conditions. This will give you a  logical explanation for your symptoms and this can be really comforting, trust us!

  2. Hormonal issues

    Women with PCOS have been found to suffer from sexual dysfunction like reaching an orgasm. Medical experts feel this could be due to hormonal imbalances inside a PCOS woman’s body. Excess androgens can throw a woman's female hormones out of whack which helps her achieve satisfaction from sex thus affecting sexual function.

    So, you can safely blame high testosterone running around like crazy in your body for lack of orgasms in the sack.

  3. Struggle to become pregnant

    Women with PCOS are more likely to struggle with fertility as PCOS can cause women to stop ovulating. But for women seeking to have children, this issue can create problems in their sex lives. 

    When a woman’s trying to have a baby, intimacy and enjoyment usually go out the door since conceiving can often involve scheduling sex during the times they're most fertile.

    Fertility medication can also affect libido in women with PCOS.


Finally...

If you’re suffering from PCOS and experience a loss of interest in sex, know that this is a common problem in other women with PCOS too.

And don’t lose heart as it is possible to manage the ill-effects of PCOS fully. All you have to know is where to begin after gaining a better understanding of PCOS and its impact on your sexual health.

We suggest that if you think your sex life has been affected by PCOS, seek help from your doctor, psychologist, dietician, or accredited health professional, now as waiting will only make the problem worse.







About the Author

Shikha Gandhi

Shikha Gandhi is a health journalist and a short film maker. She is also a certified Pranic healer and a lover of long walks.