PCOS and Sex: The Lesser Known Effects

With so many myths surrounding PCOS, it becomes important to address the many symptoms and complications of PCOS, including the lesser known effects of PCOS on a woman’s sexual health. And having difficulty in sexual relationship can affect you in far more subtle ways than you can think.

Posted on June 9, 2022 ·

BY Team Veera

Medically Reviewed

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There are certain health conditions that, if you’re diagnosed with, has the potential to change your way of lifestyle — and one such condition is Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Being diagnosed with PCOS can be difficult — and often it might not feel easy to speak about your condition with those close to you. Especially with so many myths surrounding PCOS, it becomes important to address the many symptoms and complications of PCOS, including the lesser known effects of PCOS on a woman’s sexual health.

PCOS and Sex

Having a healthy sexual relationship with your partner is just as important to your overall well-being and happiness. However, women with PCOS reportedly show problems with sexual function which can have an impact on your personal life.

Problems with sexual response can be due to:

1. Your emotional health: feelings of low self confidence or body image issues can make it hard to relax. When you cannot relax, arousal is difficult, and pain may result.
2. Medications: many medications can reduce sexual desire, including some birth control pills
3. Relationship problems: talking about PCOS with your partner can be difficult, but it can also be a relief to have someone close to you understand what you are going through. There also are some self-help measures you can try to reduce pain during sex such as using a water-based lubricant, engaging in foreplay and making time for sex when you are not tired or anxious.

If you are wondering how PCOS can affect your sexual health, here are some commonly asked questions, answered by our experts!

Does PCOS cause difficulty in reaching orgasm?

Women with PCOS have been shown to have problems with sexual function and this holds true in terms of orgasms. Although the exact cause is unknown, women with PCOS show elevated levels of male hormones which can have a negative effect on sexual function including reduced orgasm.

Does PCOS affect my sex drive?

Elevated levels of male hormones are shown to have a direct impact on sexual desire, motivation and satisfaction which can ultimately affect your libido. Since elevated male hormones is also a cause for facial hair and acne, many women with PCOS have body image issues which can make them feel less sexually attractive. Although this might vary among women, it’s said that women who are on birth control pills are more likely to have reduced sex drive. So if you’re on birth control pills and have lately observed reduced sex drive, talk to your doctor.

Is it safe to have unprotected sex with PCOS?

Most women with PCOS experience irregular period cycles. So having missed periods, longer cycles and fluctuation in bleeding is pretty common. This makes it difficult to predict your ovulation days i.e. the days when you are most fertile and have increased chances of getting pregnant. So unless you have been tracking your ovulation regularly, don’t give yourself the leeway to have unprotected sex because women with PCOS don’t ovulate regularly and you might end up with an unwanted pregnancy. Using protection also greatly reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Is it painful to have sex with PCOS?

Dyspareunia is the medical term for painful intercourse. Although you can have dyspareunia for many reasons, some women with PCOS do experience pain during or after having sexual intercourse. Although the exact cause is unknown, some women with PCOS experience sexual dysfunction which can affect their sex drive, lubrication and sexual confidence. A very common cause of painful intercourse is decreased lubrication. Symptoms of PCOS, such as being overweight, having acne or facial hair can affect sexual confidence and lubrication which can in turn cause painful sex.

If you are someone who is experiencing difficulties in your sexual life, the first step is to speak to your partner to increase their understanding of your condition and the symptoms you’re experiencing. You should also not hesitate to speak to your doctor for any concerns regarding sexual dysfunction.

Meanwhile, you should also focus on managing your symptoms of PCOS with a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications that will ultimately help improve your sexual health.

Remember that having difficulty in sexual relationship can affect you in far more subtle ways than you can think. So knowing that you’re not the only one, can help you take the first step!

Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician

Verified by Dr. Iris Lee

Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Lee is a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed medical school and residency training at the University of Pennsylvania as well. Her work focuses primarily on PCOS, particularly the metabolic and mental health implications. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her husband and two puppies.

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