Millions of women around the world, myself included, have either taken or are currently taking hormonal contraceptives. However, are we adequately informed about the potential impact of these pills on our bodies? Could the use of hormonal contraceptives actually influence our choice of partner?
In 1995, a Swiss researcher conducted a study known as 'the sweaty t-shirt study.' During this experiment, men were asked to wear t-shirts for several days, and a group of women were then asked to smell them to determine which scent they found most attractive. The results revealed that women who were not using hormonal contraceptives were more attracted to the smell of men whose genetics were most dissimilar to their own. Conversely, women who were using the pill did not choose partners from this group and were more likely to select individuals with similar genetics.
Hormonal contraceptives disrupt our natural hormonal cycle, mimicking a state of pregnancy in the body. This prevents ovulation and, therefore, the possibility of becoming pregnant, effectively acting as a contraceptive.
During pregnancy, women tend to prioritize the support of their existing family and friends rather than seeking out new partners. It is understandable, then, that when using hormonal contraceptives that induce this 'pregnant' state, we may be more inclined to select partners with genetics similar to our own—individuals whom we may not find as attractive when not using these contraceptives.
It's not uncommon for women to decide to leave their partners when they transition away from hormonal contraceptives and whilst I hope this doesn't scare anyone (as there are obviously many other factors involved when deciding who to spend your life with) I feel it's important that these topics are discussed so that we as women can make more informed choices about what we put into our bodies.
If you'd like to learn more about the contraceptive pill then the book "The Pill : Are You Sure It's For You?" is a great place to start.
I appreciate that in some circumstances having the pill as an option for contraception can be an empowering choice - one that not every woman around the world has access to. So this post is not about bashing hormonal contraceptives, but merely giving you food for thought when making this important decision for your body.
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