I have opinions about relationships. I’m a big LOVE, ROMANCE, THE NOTEBOOK kind of woman. I’ve been married to my husband for 10 years this week and I love being married to him. Over this time I’ve definitely developed my own thoughts on marriage, long lasting relationships and attractions.
When I recently read an article on Birth Control affecting who we are attracted to… I was very surprised! Before I share these findings and my opinion on the subject, I want to mention that I’m super hesitant about “studies” because studies can be extremely biased based on motives. Because of this, I dove deep, and I read the report findings of three different studies.
It changed my opinion.
When I first read how oral contraception could change who you’re attracted to. My first thought was, not me! Nothing could keep me away from my husband. And the thought that a pill, meant to help us regulate our bodies could change who our soulmate is… no way! But after reading the studies, I started to understand the deeper meaning of them and what they were really saying.
Out of the studies I read, my favorite by far was from Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Why did I like this one? Because it had the largest pool of people who were studied and used women from all over the world. It was extremely thorough and this particular study didn’t go into attractiveness, which I preferred, mostly because I think attractiveness is very relative.
If you don’t know how these studies work, let me give you a quick run down. (I only know because my husband and I were part of a marriage study by eharmony for 5 years). They bring you in for interviews and then you take private tests, ones that no one will ever see. The tests can take up to an hour and they normally send them to you every 6 months via email with a special login (it depends on the study).
So what does being on birth control really mean for your relationship? In a lot of ways it seems like women who picked a partner while on birth control picked them using their head instead of just letting their bodies take over. Which is a very vast generalization of the study (my words not theirs - but honestly that’s more or less what they are saying). Here is the break down.
Through the studies I read, women on oral contraception (birth control) expressed stronger preferences for social cues associated with direct benefits of their choice in a mate. Things like “does he make me laugh,” and “can he support a family,” are being processed more because your birth control pills suppress your mid-cycle estrogen surge.
Another great resource on this subject is Dr. Sarah Hill who is a research psychologist and professor. She studies health, relationships and social behavior. She explains that hormonal birth control stops ovulation. It alters the natural hormone state, which in turn can cause a woman to be attracted to a different type of partner.
“When compared with naturally cycling women, pill-taking women exhibit less activity in the reward centers of the brain when looking at masculine faces, but more activity in these centers when looking at money.” - Dr. Hill
The Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences study “found that women who met their partner while using oral contraception were more satisfied in the non-sexual aspects of their relationship with their partner… However, these benefits appear to be offset by costs in terms of lower satisfaction in sexual aspects of the relationship.”
Conclusion: If you’re on the pill it probably means you’re attempting to achieve pregnancy prevention, regular periods or clear skin. However, your hormones have their own ideas. *FYI your period on the pill is actually caused by a sudden hormonal crash when you transition from your active pills to sugar pills.
As far as pregnancy prevention, there are options like the IUD (which I love) or for less long-term solutions you have condoms, spermicides, the cervical cap, or a diaphragm (all with about 85% success rate due to user error, otherwise if done right most are 94-98% success rate).
No matter the circumstances of how you meet your partner, I truly believe you can have a successful relationship. If you and your partner respect one another and will take the time to work through lives challenges, then you have something worth fighting for.