Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the groundbreaking study by scientists at the Karolinska Institute found that birth control did not affect “overall sexual function”.
The researchers split 332 women into two groups, where one half took the most common combined oral contraceptive pill in Sweden and the other took placebo sugar-based pills.
Both halves reported similar levels of the frequency of orgasms, sexual concern, responsiveness and self-image.
However, the group that was on the pill said they had experienced decreased levels of desire, arousal and pleasure over the course of the three-month test period.
“This is the first study that shows that contraceptives could affect sexuality. We have not known that before because there has been no scientific evidence,” one of the researchers, Karolinska professor and gynaecologist Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, told Swedish radio on Tuesday.
She added that she hoped the study would spark more research into how contraceptives affect female health, which would enable doctors to provide better advice to young women.
“We're talking about young, healthy women often being on the pill. They take it every day, sometimes for decades. It's not reasonable then that it should affect your well-being and your sexuality,” she said.
Sweden's centre-left Social Democrat-Green coalition government pushed through a series of health reforms last year, including making available free contraceptive pills for women under the age of 20 from summer 2017. Some regions have extended the scheme to include all under-26s.