Relationship satisfaction linked to oral contraception

Contraceptive pills Women who used the pill when they met their partner were less sexually satisfied

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A Stirling University researcher has connected relationship satisfaction with oral contraception.

Dr Craig Roberts and seven colleagues examined women who use the pill when they meet their partner.

They found these women were less sexually satisfied or attracted to their partners.

However, the women were more satisfied with other aspects of the relationship and so less likely to separate, according to the research.

Dr Roberts said: "Our results show some positive and negative consequences of using the pill when a woman meets her partner.

"Such women may, on average, be less satisfied with the sexual aspects of their relationship, but more so with non-sexual aspects."

He added: "Overall, women who met their partner on the pill had longer relationships - by two years on average - and were less likely to separate.

"So there is both good news and bad news for women who meet while on the pill.

"One effect seems to compensate for the other."

'Chemistry of attraction'

Previous research by Dr Roberts found that pill use alters women's preference for men's body odour.

Instead of preferring genetically different men, when women go on the pill their preference switches towards the odour of more genetically similar men.

Start Quote

Choosing a non-hormonal barrier method of contraception for a few months before getting married might be one way for a woman to check or reassure herself that she's still attracted to her partner”

End Quote Dr Craig Roberts Stirling University

This might mean that women using the pill choose different men than they would otherwise choose.

"Women tend to find genetically dissimilar men attractive because resulting babies will more likely be healthy," Dr Roberts said."

He said this was part of the "subconscious chemistry of attraction" between men and women.

"Similarly, women's preferences subconsciously change over time so that during non-fertile stages of the menstrual cycle they are more attracted to men who appear more caring and reliable - good dads," Dr Roberts said.

"The hormonal levels of women using the pill don't alter much across a month and most closely reflect those typical of the non-fertile phases of the menstrual cycle.

"It seems that our preferences are shaped by these hormonal levels, so preferences of women on the pill don't change around ovulation in the way seen in normally-cycling women."

Dr Roberts added: "Choosing a non-hormonal barrier method of contraception for a few months before getting married might be one way for a woman to check or reassure herself that she's still attracted to her partner."

The research findings have been published in a paper in the Royal Society journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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