Stay Fit and Healthy

Does the Pill Make Women Less Competitive About Their Mate?

While the Pill remains a favorite form of birth control, a new study out of the Netherlands suggests that being on oral contraceptives could affect your choice of mate -- as well as your ongoing feelings about him if the relationship continues long term.

When birth control pills first hit the market in the 1960’s, they were credited with helping launch the sexual revolution, allowing women to take charge of preventing pregnancy, and many believe gave them the freedom to be more outgoing and aggressive. But what if that is not the case and the pill in fact makes you more apathetic about your mate?

According to a study conducted at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, researchers had 28 women ages 20 to 31 fill out questionnaires measuring what the study called the “scale of intrasexual competition.” Study participants completed the survey at three different times: Once while taking hormonal contraceptives, once while not taking them during a fertile time in their cycles, and once while not taking them but during a non-fertile time in their cycles.

The surveys were designed to measure how competitive the women felt with other women -- and whether they saw them as friends or foes. What they found is that the women who were in relationships and on the Pill scored the lowest on the scale of intrasexual competition, compared to those not on the Pill (during the fertile or non-fertile times in their cycles). That means they were least likely to feel competitive toward other women or fight for their man if it came to that.

One possible explanation: The Pill works by tweaking your hormones, including testosterone. Being on the Pill suppresses your natural production of testosterone, the hormone responsible for rivalry and aggressive behavior.

While being a pacifist may a good thing in some situations, Kelly Cobey, the lead author of the study fears it could mean trouble for women who become romantically apathetic thanks to their choice of contraceptive. She says “Women who use hormonal contraceptives may settle and start families with partners who they otherwise would not”.

But before you race to the bathroom to flush your pills down the toilet, remember that this study involved only 28 women -- a very small number when it comes to this type of research. So stay tuned for more news on the topic (and maybe pick up a pack of condoms to have on hand just in case).

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