I’ve been on the Depo shot for two months now and I have no sex drive. No desire whatsoever. I Googled it and it’s normal for women on the shot to feel this way.
Do you have any tips or sex hacks to help me and my BF out? I’m sure he’s tired of coming home to me not wanting to do it.
– Feelin’ Low on the Depo
Dear Feelin’ Low,
There are a number of reasons why you may be experiencing this noted side effect of the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which is said to be felt by about 8% of people on it. Changes in hormone levels caused by the Depo shot or other forms of hormonal birth control like the pill or patch can cause diminished sexual interest and/or physical responsiveness.
However, most research reports that these side effects greatly decrease or disappear after one or two months of using Depo-Provera. Physically, that is. But sexual desire, libido, and sexual responsiveness are all influenced by our physiology, including our hormonal levels (oh hey, Depo) and also our psychological, mental, and emotional states (oh hey, the emotional impact of your libido being shot down).
This is where the idea that your boyfriend is “tired of coming home to me not wanting to do it” comes in. Having a temporary loss of sexual desire can be very jarring for individuals and their partners. You’re both used to your libido functioning in a familiar way. But then you start on a new birth control and suddenly your drive has seemingly run out of gas. You try all your familiar tricks like more candles, new sex toys, or your favorite kinky role play, but nothing works. Your desire is DOA and you’re freaking out!
To make matters worse, your boyfriend is seemingly getting discouraged or feeling dejected. So, when it comes time to try to get busy again, you think, “Oh no! If I can’t get my engine revving this time, we’re really in trouble.” Performance anxiety and low sexual self-esteem compound what may have previously been a temporary lack of Depo-influenced libido and, and, and … Two months of this cycle would exhaust anyone, Feelin’ Low!
First, break this powerful cycle by letting yourself off the hook. Your libido is not actually a drive, waiting for you to just push the gas pedal a little bit harder. Your libido is a complex network of context and comfort, heavily influenced by your stress levels, relationship security, and yes, which birth control you’re on. You are not the only one responsible for creating a positive sexual space in your relationship where sexual desire can flourish amidst stressful setbacks.
This is where your partner comes in. You’re sure he’s tired of your lack of libido, but have you actually talked with him about it? Communicating about what’s happening for you, and how this adjustment to the Depo shot has affected your sex lives, make the “libido issue” something to team up to resolve, not just your issue.
Take a jointly active role in creating a positive sexual context in your relationship by doing one of Emily Nagoski’s brilliant Sexy Contexts worksheets (thedirtynormal.com). Engage in sex acts that accommodate your current desire, rather than pushing your desire to catch up to the sex act.
Your use of the phrase “not wanting to do it” leads me to believe that “It” stands for a traditional sexual interaction that you’ve both become accustomed to (my guess is Ye Ol Faithful P-in-V). But if all you really want to do is get a sexy back massage, or roll around and make out, or blast one off with the Hitachi while he scrolls through Instagram, then just do that and stop there! Keeping it consensual means only doing what you really feel enthusiastically YES about. Plus, more often than not, giving yourselves permission to just do a little can build intimacy and trust, leading to more.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sex advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.