Oct. 13, 2011 at 9:43 AM ET
Ladies, if you feel your partner is a great provider -- but meh in the love-making department -- it may have something to do with your birth control.
Women who were taking contraceptive pills when they met their significant other were more likely to stay in the relationship than women who weren’t on the Pill, according to new research. While the partners of the non-Pill taking women tend to be more handsome and better in the sack, their relationships just didn’t have the same staying power.
Good-looking and sexy or dull and nice. Seems there's always a trade-off when it comes to love.
The study was posted online Wednesday by the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Scottish and Czech scientists asked 2,500 women who were the biological mothers of at least one child about the father of the child and their relationship with him (not all the couples were married). And they also asked about the birth control they used when they met. The women were told only that the study was about their experiences of pregnancy and children and their relationship satisfaction.
Previous research has shown that hormonal variations over the menstrual cycle affect how women size up men as mate material. For example, studies have shown that women prefer more masculine men during ovulation than at other times of the month -- because the more macho, the more successful he is as a breeder.
Because the Pill smooths out those hormonal variations, researchers suspected that a muscle-bound hunk might not turn users' heads as much as a nice, average-looking guy with a steady job. And that's pretty much what they found. Women who'd been taking contraceptive pills when they met their partner were more likely to still be in the relationship. And while they rated their partner's body lower in attractiveness than women who hadn't been on the pill, they rated his "financial provision" more favorably.
"Our results show some positive and negative consequences of using the pill when a woman meets her partner," psychologist Craig Roberts of the University of Stirling in Scotland, said in a statement.
Other research by Roberts has found that oral contraceptives can also alter women’s preferences for men’s body odor. On the Pill, they gravitate toward the odor of men who are more genetically similar to them. But off the pill, they’re attracted to the odor of genetically dissimilar men when they’re ovulating.
“Women tend to find genetically dissimilar men attractive because resulting babies will be more likely to be healthy,” Roberts said in the release. “It’s part of the subconscious ‘chemistry’ of attraction between men and women.”
Because contraceptive pills smooth out those monthly hormonal variations, Roberts and his coauthors suspected Brad Pitt might not turn users’ heads as much as a nice, so-so-looking guy with a steady job. And that, pretty much, is what they found.