Birth Control Pills May Alter Women's Mate Selection
Results of a recent study suggest that the birth control pill may alter the type of men women seek for in a partner.
Published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, the research article titled "Does the Contraceptive Pill Alter Mate Choice In Humans" focuses on secondary effects of 40 years of widespread usage of the birth control pill, and finds that by altering hormonal cycles, the pill might have an effect on women's choice of mates.
According to Dr. Alexandra Alvergne and Dr. Virpi Lummaa of the University of Sheffield, co-authors of the study, women who are ovulating prefer men who are more masculine and "more genetically unrelated, while women who are not ovulating prefer guys who are more feminine and genetically more similar. Since the pill contains synthetic versions of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone which supress ovulation, women who take the pill might be less likely to be attracted to masculine men.
On the other hand, men, given a choice, will gravitate towards an ovulating female rather than a non-ovulating female. This coincides with the results of previous studies which showed that women are more attractive to men around the time of ovulation. Past studies have also shown that women's tastes in men change depending on the time of the month they are in related to their menstrual cycle.
"While the general trend certainly points to the direction that the pill might indeed affect mate preferences in both sexes in a very intriguing way, we badly need further studies experimentally testing these effects...So, at this point, I wouldn't like to raise any concern among the pill users, just awareness that these type of effects might also be possible," said Virpi Lummaa
Future research should focus on two questions in particular, she said: Does use of the pill affect marital relationship, satisfaction and durability; and does it affect the ability of couples to reproduce?