Using the birth control pill could have a long-lasting effect on the health of a relationship, according to a new study. The hormones can influence a woman's attraction to a particular man so much so that researchers are advising women to stop taking it before their wedding to ensure they are still attracted to their future husband.
Researchers from Stirling University in Scotland surveyed 2,500 women and found that women on the pill seemed to turn away from more macho guys. Instead, the women were drawn to more sensitive men they thought could provide a future, despite being less attractive and less exciting in the bedroom, according to the study.
Women who used [the pill] scored lower on measures of sexual satisfaction and partner attraction, experienced increasing sexual dissatisfaction during the relationship and were more likely to be the one to initiate an eventual separation, if it occurred, the authors wrote.
But the women weren't unhappy. Despite not being satisfied with their sexual life, women on the pill were more satisfied with how caring and reliable their partners were -- all categories that make for a good father, researchers said. Women on the pill had relationships two-years longer on average as well.
The implications of our study seem to be that by changing your hormone profile through using the pill, you might shift your preference away from 'cads' [British slang for a man who is disrespectful to women] in favor of 'dads,'' Dr. Craig Roberts, lead researcher and senior lecturer at Stirling University, told the Daily Mail.
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While they aren't sure what causes the change, researchers said there could be an evolutionary reason.
Women experience shifts in what they find attractive during their menstrual cycle, according to the study. When women ovulate, they are interested in someone they find sexually attractive. When they aren't ovulating, women are interested in men who possess traits that would make someone a good father. The birth control pill suppresses ovulation, so women do not experience this shift, researchers said.
It's part of the subconscious 'chemistry' of attraction between men and women, Roberts told The Guardian.
In order to make sure that the relationship chemistry is going to be there once the woman stops taking the pill, Roberts recommends that she stop taking it as a trial-run before the wedding.
Choosing a non-hormonal barrier method of contraception [such as a condom] for a few months before getting married might be one way for a woman to check or reassure herself that she's still attracted to her partner, he told BBC News.
The journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B will publish the study in its April issue on Saturday.