It’s a pill so notorious that its name need not be uttered because simply referring to it as 'The Pill' is enough for everyone to understand. Birth control is hardly ever a topic that isn’t under intense scrutiny. For some, it’s a godsend little capsule that can keep them from conceiving, yet for others can be a horror show of hormonal imbalance.
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But one vital question remains, does it affect who you're attracted to?
A hormonal journey
Whatever your thoughts or experiences with the pill are, since it’s been on the market, the scientific community has been investigating just how much your habits are affected by it. It is well understood how hormones like estrogen play a role in sexual desire, as during the cycle, estrogen levels grow and this makes women naturally start to be attracted to a mate that shows high signs of the opposite hormone, testosterone.
So, the question asked by scientists is, when people take birth control pills that affect estrogen production (by keeping it at a stable level throughout your cycle), could this also change their choice of partner? Some would say it can have an effect! There are some reports of women who used birth control when they met their significant others saying that they were less attracted to and less sexually satisfied with their partner once stopping.
Some studies have been done to both validate and debate this, yet among all these arguments, one thing is clear. These kinds of studies suggest that the pill – by influencing who women are attracted to – may have some implications on relationships.
The impact on attraction needs more studies
However, some women don’t exhibit a preference for high testosterone at any point in their cycle, suggesting that for some there’s a chance that a partner chosen on the pill will meet the woman’s masculinity standards once she goes off it. This is backed up by some studies that showthat over a long period of time the pill does not significantly affect a woman's desire towards her partner.
Nevertheless, the idea that your birth control pill might influence your choice of relationship partners in an adverse way can seem a bit scary. But worry not, the evidence that the pill does affect your tastes is still elusive...
Plus, there are so many other questions to be answered, like how it could potentially affect LGBTQI+ relationships and how different types of birth control have different types of effects.
So, while birth control can give you peace of mind around pregnancy, make sure to note any changes in yourself while on it as side effects can be subtle but potentially significant.
Sarah Hill: 'Does the pill affect who you are attracted to?'
Vice: 'Birth Control Might Change Who Women Feel Attracted To'
Association for Psychological Science: 'Birth Control Probably Doesn’t Change Who You’re Attracted to, Study Finds'