Women on Pill pick a dud in bed but a dude in the home
Women who take the Pill tend to choose as partners men who are less attractive and worse in bed but a sounder bet for a long-term relationship, according to an unusual study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Tuesday.
Probing the effect of contraceptive hormones on mating choice, researchers questioned 2,519 women in the United States, Czech Republic, Britain and Canada who had had at least one child.
The volunteers were asked to rate their relationship for general satisfaction and sexual pleasure and the attractiveness of their partner or, retrospectively, of their ex.
Oral contraception had been used by 1,005 women when they met their partner, while 1,514 had used no form of hormonal birth control at the first encounter.
"Our results show some positive and negative consequences of using the Pill when a woman meets her partner," said Craig Roberts of Stirling University, Scotland, who led the investigation.
"Such women may, on average, be less satisfied with the sexual aspects of their relationship but more so with non-sexual aspects. Overall, women who met their partner on the Pill had longer relationships -- by two years on average -- and were less likely to separate."
Roberts suspects the Pill skews the sub-conscious "chemistry" by which a woman makes a mating choice.
Previously, he found that using oral contraceptives altered women's preferences for men's body odour.
When they didn't take the Pill, women were subjected to the strong hormonal swings of the menstrual cycle.
During ovulation, they unwittingly preferred the smell of men who were genetically dissimilar.
The evolutionary explanation for this is that babies that are born from genetically dissimilar couples tend to be healthier and have a better chance of survival.
But when women took the Pill, they preferred the smell of genetically similar men, Roberts found in this earlier research.
This was because the normal hormonal swings of the menstrual cycle evened out under the effect of the contraception.
The hormone levels typically reflected the non-fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, when women "are more attracted to men who appear more caring and reliable -- good dads," said Roberts.
Although such men are a better choice for long-term partnerships, the risk of a relationship breakdown is still there.
"Women who used oral contraception when they met their partner tended to find him less attractive, engaged in compliant sex and rejected sexual advances more frequently as the relationship progressed, and were more likely to initiate separation if it occurred," the study notes bleakly.
The new research gives an important statistical push to the theory of sexual chemistry but also raises a dilemma.
Should a woman go for Mr. Hunk or Mr. Nice?
To women who are mistrustful of what their body is telling them, going off the Pill and using a condom could help provide the answer, suggests Roberts.
"Choosing a non-hormonal barrier method of contraception 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 says.
The volunteers for the study were recruited through personal contact, social networking sites and advertising on pregnancy and parenthood forum websites. Of the 2,519 women, 1,761 women were still in a relationship with the biological father of their first child.
More information: Relationship satisfaction and outcome in women who meet their partner while using oral contraception, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Published online before print October 12, 2011, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1647
Hormonal variation over the menstrual cycle alters women's preferences for phenotypic indicators of men's genetic or parental quality. Hormonal contraceptives suppress these shifts, inducing different mate preference patterns among users and non-users. This raises the possibility that women using oral contraception (OC) choose different partners than they would do otherwise but, to date, we know neither whether these laboratory-measured effects are sufficient to exert real-world consequences, nor what these consequences would be. Here, we test for differences in relationship quality and survival between women who were using or not using OC when they chose the partner who fathered their first child. Women who used OC 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. However, the same women were more satisfied with their partner's paternal provision, and thus had longer relationships and were less likely to separate. These effects are congruent with evolutionary predictions based on cyclical preference shifts. Our results demonstrate that widespread use of hormonal contraception may contribute to relationship outcome, with implications for human reproductive behaviour, family cohesion and quality of life.
(c) 2011 AFP
- Unnatural selection: Birth control pills may alter choice of partners Oct 07, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Contraceptive methods shape women's sexual pleasure and satisfaction Dec 08, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Study in Lancet finds use of hormonal contraception doubles HIV risk Oct 03, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Couples report gender differences in relationship, sexual satisfaction over time Jul 05, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Single women gaze longer Jun 03, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
High blood glucose is associated with poor outcomes in hospitalized patients, and use of intensive insulin therapy (IIT) to control hyperglycemia is a common practice in hospitals. But the recent evidence does not show a ...
Other May 24, 2013 | 4 / 5 (1) | 0
Two out of five medical students have an unconscious bias against obese people, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The study is published online ahead of print in the Journal of ...
Other May 23, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) new medical school will be pioneering the use of plastinated bodies for medical education in Singapore.
Other May 23, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
A 2012 survey of internal medicine residents at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) – one of the nation's leading teaching hospitals – found that more than half rated the training they had received in addiction and other ...
Other May 22, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Early use of tracheostomy for mechanically ventilated patients not associated with improved survival
For critically ill patients receiving mechanical ventilation, early tracheostomy (within the first 4 days after admission) was not associated with an improvement in the risk of death within 30 days compared to patients who ...
Other May 21, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality ...
17 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 5
(HealthDay)—Animals make great companions for senior citizens, but elderly people who always drive with a pet in the car are far more likely to crash than those who never drive with a pet, researchers have ...
9 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS), according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. AS, also referred to as male 'menopause', was four times ...
17 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 1
Mortality and length of stay are highest in heart failure patients admitted in January, on Friday, and overnight, according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. The analysis of nearly 1 million ...
17 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Department of Justice lawyers have again asked a federal appeals court in New York to delay lifting age restrictions and prescription requirements on an emergency contraceptive popularly known as the morning-after ...
17 hours ago | not rated yet | 0