Uh-oh. First we heard warnings that the pill could cause breast cancer in future, and now its said to be slowing down women's sex drives.

Researchers led by Lisa-Maria Wallwiener, MD, of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, conducted a survey on more than 1,000 medical students about their sex lives and contraception choices.

More than 87% of the students reported they had used contraceptives in the last six months. Eighty percent said they were in stablerelationships; 97% reported being sexually active in the previous four weeks.

The students were divided into four groups: those who used oral hormonal contraception; those who used non-oral hormonal contraception, such as a vaginal ring; those who used non-hormonal contraception; and those who didn’t use contraception. Overall, the study results showed that:

    * 32.4% were at risk for female sexual dysfunction
    * 8.7% were at risk for orgasm disorder
    * 5.8% were at risk for hypoactive sexual desire disorder
    * 2.6% were at risk for satisfaction problems
    * 1% were at risk for arousal disorder
    * 1.2% were at risk for decreased lubrication
    * 1.1% were at risk for pain

In addition to contraception choices, stress, pregnancy, smoking, relationship status, and a desire for children all influenced sexual function. Women who were in stable relationships, were nonsmokers, who had not been pregnant, and were not actively trying to have a baby were more likely to use oral contraceptives like the birth control pill, the research team reports. Women not in stable relationships -- regardless of their contraception use -- had higher sexual desire but lower orgasm scores.

"Sexual problems can have a negative impact on both quality of life and emotional well-being, regardless of age," says Wallwiener, who lead the study. "FSD is a very common disorder, with an estimated prevalence of about two in five women having at least one sexual dysfunction, and the most common complaint appearing to be low desire."