Fertility and pregnancy * Healthy living

Pill influences women's choice of partner

The pill influence women s choice of partner Leads to longer relationships

Taking the contraceptive pill can affect a woman's choice of partner, according to research.

Scientists claim that women who use the contraceptive pill when they meet their partner are less sexually satisfied or attracted to them, but are more satisfied with other aspects of the relationship and, as a result, are less likely to separate.

The research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, questioned more than 2500 women from several countries, including Britain, about different aspects of their relationship with the father of their first child.

Overall, women who met their partner while taking the pill had longer relationships, by two years on average, and were less likely to separate, the study found.

The study findings fit in with previous research by the same team at Stirling University, which showed that women tend to be attracted to partners who are genetically dissimilar to themselves, through body odour.

But, when women go on the pill their preferences switch towards the odour of more genetically similar men.

This suggests that women using the pill choose men different than they would otherwise choose, the scientists said.

"Women tend to find genetically dissimilar men attractive because resulting babies will more likely be healthy," said Dr Craig Roberts, who led the study. "It’s part of the subconscious 'chemistry' of attraction between men and women.

"Similarly, women’s preferences subconsciously change over time so that during non-fertile stages of the menstrual cycle they are more attracted to men who appear more caring and reliable – good dads.

"The hormonal levels of women using the pill don’t alter much across a month and most closely reflect those typical of the non-fertile phases of the menstrual cycle.

"It seems that our preferences are shaped by these hormonal levels, so preferences of women on the pill don’t change around ovulation in the way seen in normally-cycling women."

Dr Roberts suggested that women may like to change their type of contraception to find out how they really feel.

He said: "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."

This article was published on Wed 12 October 2011

Image © catherina holder - Fotolia.com

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