Most women can probably know that the birth control pill can cause them to experience "sexual side effects," but did you know that the pill could also influence who women are attracted to? And even who do they choose as a partner and the probability of maintaining their marriage?
What is attractive in the eyes of a woman taking the contraceptive pill?
It may sound like something out of science fiction, but (as we all know) reality is sometimes stranger than fiction.
Before we dive into the findings of this research, let's first recall what the birth control pill (artificial sex hormones) is made of and what do sex hormones do? turning on and off billions of switches in cells throughout your body, influencing the version of you that is created by your body.
This means that the pill is going to influence your brain circuits related to love and sex. It would be impossible for him not to.
The birth control pill could influence who you are attracted to
Although this idea and the research that is being carried out on it is still in a very early stage, the existing data suggests that the pill could influence who you are attracted to, the dynamics of your relationships, the quality of your sex life How jealous you are, how you respond to your partner's face, how “sexy” you are with others, and how likely you are to get divorced.
In other words, the pill can influence almost everything that matters when it comes to love, sex, and relationships.
For example, in one study, researchers brought heterosexual women into a research laboratory and allowed them to use special computer program to manipulate the appearance of photographs of male and female faces.
They could change the appearance of the men and women in the photos by adjusting the height of the jaw, the width of the face, the prominence of the cheekbones, etc.
The researchers asked the women to manipulate the characteristics of the male face to create the face of their ideal short- or long-term romantic partner (male face).
They were also asked to manipulate the characteristics of the female face to create the face of the most attractive woman. The women entered the lab and completed this task at two different time points: once before they started taking the birth control pill and once about three months after they started.
Less masculinity in the profile of a man who chooses a woman when taking the pill
When the researchers compared the two sets of images (before and after the pill), they found that the ideal male, but not female, faces of women became significantly less masculine once they started taking the contraceptive pill.
In a second study, these same researchers looked at whether women taking the pill actually choose men with less masculine faces as a partner relative to their non-pill-taking counterparts.
To this end, they compared the facial masculinity of a group of men whose partners chose them when they were taking the contraceptive pill with another group of men whose partners chose them when they were not taking it.
Facial masculinity was measured by having faces evaluated by a separate group of participants. What they found was that women who take pills not only prefer less masculine men's faces, they are also more likely to choose these men as a partner.
The idea that women can choose a different partner when taking the pill than the one they would have originally chosen suggests that the pill may have some effects on the quality and dynamics of women's long-term relationships.
Maybe it can even increase the risk of divorce or infidelity. This situation also raises a number of questions that researchers had not considered very important until now.
If masculinity is not the attraction, what is?
For example, if women who take pills aren't really that interested in signs of masculinity, what exactly are they looking for when it comes to dating?
To find an answer to this question, the researchers conducted a relationship quality survey in a group of more than 2,000 women, each of whom had at least one child at the time the survey was conducted.
Half of the women in this sample were taking the pill when they met their partners, and the other half were not. The survey asked women about the quality of their relationship with the man they fathered their first child with, regardless of whether they still had a relationship with him or not.
What they found was that women in their natural cycle, in addition to choosing partners with more masculine features, also seemed to be enjoying sex more compared to women who chose their partners when taking the pill.
They feel more sexual arousal, they are more sexually adventurous, they are more attracted to their partners. They are simply more interested in sex than those on the pill.
This phenomenon was consistent with research showing that women in their natural cycle (at least near ovulation, when fertility is high and estrogen is dominant) have a good eye (and ear) for certain signs of masculinity.
Women who do not take the pill are attracted to this type of face
The particular finding of this research is that women in their fertile days look for more masculine, deeper faces, more masculine voices and find socially dominant and confident men more attractive than at the less fertile points of their cycle.
Since women who take the pill do not ovulate and remain in a perpetual low-estrogen state, the pill can decrease the emphasis that women place on these types of traits, leading to the development of a relationship that has less to do with sex and more with other qualities.
But what are those other qualities?
Research suggests that women who take birth control pills can focus more on another set of qualities that are quite important to many women. In particular, they found that women who had chosen their partners when taking the pill were more satisfied with their partners' financial capacity and intelligence than women who had chosen their partners when they were not taking it.
This is consistent when we talk about how taking the pill causes women to shift their mate preferences towards qualities that would help them stay safe when preparing for pregnancy, which is believed to occur because the pill mimics a hormonal state in which women's bodies wait to see if a fertilized egg can implant.
This event is repeated in the results of the brain imaging investigation. Compared to women in their natural cycle, women taking pills exhibit less activity in the brain's reward centers when looking at male faces, but more activity in these centers in response to their financial capabilities.
But an even bigger positive is what we can see when we look at the divorce rate. Despite having less sexual satisfaction and being less attracted to masculinity, women who chose their partners when taking the pill were much less likely to divorce than women who chose their partners when not taking it.
Resource providers are the choices when taking the pill
This suggests that taking the pill may lead women to choose partners who are good resource providers and willing to be with them through thick and thin (hence the lower divorce rate and greater satisfaction with investing in means).
However, something that is just as important to mention is that this research found that when these women who take the pill divorced, they were mostly the initiators of the divorce (they were the initiators 84.5 percent of the time, compared to 73.6 percent of the time among those who chose their partners when not taking the pill).
This suggests that by choosing these faithful men who invest their resources as a good partner (and at the expense of sensuality), women who take pills may put themselves at risk of being dissatisfied with their relationship due to lack of attraction. and sexual satisfaction if they ever get out of it.
The study requires more research
The results of this study are incredibly controversial. The idea that the quality and longevity of women's long-term relationships could be affected, for better or for worse, by their method of preventing pregnancy is almost unbelievable. But, before we get too carried away, it is worth noting that this study was not perfect, so we must be careful in its interpretation.
For example, because this research compared the relationship outcomes of women who took the pill with those who did not, it is possible that the results reflect pre-existing differences in the types of men preferred by women who choose to take the pill as a matter of course. of habit (remember, these women were taking the contraceptive pill when they met their partners) and those who were not.
So women who take the pill out of habit may be more likely to be the type of women who tend to choose romantic partners for reasons of personality and intelligence (Are you a good provider and are you likely to be faithful?) Than reasons. of the heart and the attractiveness.
Therefore, we cannot know for sure if the pill is responsible for the differences that have been observed between these two groups of women.
Also, because the researchers did not measure how often the women took the pill throughout their relationship (we don't know how long they were or were not using it during the course of their relationships).
It is also difficult to know some of the differences that were observed between the two groups are the result of being using the pill, starting to use it, or stopping using it.
First phases of the study on the contraceptive pill and its effects on the choice of partner
We are still in the early scientific stages, which means the results are preliminary, but may be important to you.
Interestingly, some new research has been unable to find a difference between women's facial preferences or the satisfaction of their relationships based on whether they take the pill or not.
And this is the way science works: unraveling the answers to the questions in a series of random steps forward, followed by random steps backward, followed by more steps forward... and so on.
It will probably be years before we have definitive answers on how reliably the pill influences women's facial preferences and relationship satisfaction.
And it will be longer before we know if these effects vary depending on the hormonal makeup of the pills women take.
Choose the best in your relationships for a full life with or without the pill
Until then, knowing this information can help you know what to look for in your own relationships.
Taking the time to understand what you want most in a long-term romantic partner, (and the role hormones play in driving our preferences one way or another) can improve our ability to choose someone with whom we want to go far. whether on our way we use the pill or not.
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