The influence of hormonal contraception on depression and female sexuality: a narrative review of the literature

Laura Buggio, Giussy Barbara, Federica Facchin, Laura Ghezzi, Dhouha Dridi, Paolo Vercellini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Over the past decades, an increasing number of women have been using hormonal contraception. The potential role of sex hormones in regulating vegetative, psychophysiological, and cognitive functions has been highlighted in several studies, and there is a need to further understand the impact of hormonal contraception on women’s quality of life, especially as regards psychological health and sexuality. Methods: We conducted a narrative review aimed at clarifying the mechanisms involved in the interaction between sex hormones and the brain, also focusing on the association between hormonal contraception and mood and sexual function. Results: Our findings clarified that hormonal contraception may be associated with depressive symptoms, especially among adolescents, and with sexual dysfunction. However, the evidence included in this review was conflicting and did not support the hypothesis that hormonal contraception directly causes depressive symptoms, major depressive disorder, or sexual dysfunction. Conclusions: The optimal hormonal contraception should be identified in the context of shared decision making, considering the preferences and needs of each woman, as well as her physical and psychosexual conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-201
JournalGynecological Endocrinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • depression
  • Hormonal contraception
  • mood
  • oral contraceptive
  • sex hormones
  • sexual function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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