Editor’s Note: This article is from 1Flesh.org. Wait . . . have you not heard of that site? Go check it out before you’re the last to know about the awesomeness within it! The site is run by a group of young people committed to letting the world know how harmful contraception is, and how freeing and empowering Natural Family Planning is.
It’s common knowledge that hormonal contraception is detrimental to a woman’s physical health, but there’s little discussion regarding how the same drugs affect the health of her romantic relationships. Hormonal contraception changes a woman’s romantic chemistry. How?
First, by suppressing ovulation. While this is obviously the intended end for a woman seeking to avoid pregnancy, the suppression of ovulation unintentionally suppresses the wonderful changes a woman’s body goes through that indicate her fertility to men, and help her to attract a mate.
These changes are still being discovered and compiled by researchers, but we know that fertility generally makes a woman more beautiful.
According to findings published in Royal Society Biology Letters, fertile women’s lips become bigger and brighter, her pupils dilate, and her ears, fingers, breasts and other soft tissue areas become more symmetrical, to the point that men and women rated fertile women to be more beautiful than infertile women approximately 51-59 percent of the time. Similarly, scientists at the University of Texas found that women’s “waists shrank by about half an inch, giving them a more curvaceous and shapely silhouette.”
Fertile women also develop what is colloquially referred to as “gaydar.” A study by psychologists at the University of Toronto and Tufts University showed women pictures of 80 men, 40 self-proclaimed as homosexual, 40 self-proclaimed as heterosexual. The nearer women were to peak ovulation, the more accurate they were at judging each man’s sexual orientation. During her fertile period, a woman becomes brilliant at discriminating between men who are a good match for her and men who aren’t.
Fertile women have increased sex drives and more attractive voices. They smell better, and dress sexier. They even feel better: “[Fertile] women felt less stressed than at other times of the month, had fewer headaches and could detect a more ‘positive mood’ about themselves,” according to scientists at the University of Texas. As if all that weren’t enough, in a study led by Belinda Pletzer of the University of Salzburg Austria, it was found that fertile women had increased gray matter volume in the parts of the brain involved in spatial location and face recognition. While this could be particularly useful information to female students taking exams in any visual type of study — art, film, engineering, etc. — it is primarily associated with a more accurate appraisal of potential mates.
Hormonal contraception suppresses fertility, and thereby suppresses these natural changes that make it easier for a woman to find and to attract a mate. Obviously, women on hormonal contraception — being women, and thus awesome — can easily work around some of these difficulties. But there are other issues:
In a 2011 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, ethinyl estradiol, the active chemical in most birth control pills, was shown to increase relational jealousy in women.
According to another 2011 study, “Relationship satisfaction and outcome in women who meet their partner while using oral contraception,” women “who used OC scored lower on measures of sexual satisfaction and partner attraction, experienced increasing sexual dissatisfaction during the relationship, and were more likely to be the one to initiate an eventual separation if it occurred.” Why? A woman’s body contains testosterone, an essential element when it comes to things like arousal and attraction. When a woman is on birth control pills, her testosterone levels are lowered, causing her to be less sexually inclined, and more attracted to low-testosterone men.
The study did note that women on hormonal contraception tended to be happier with some of the non-sexual aspects of their relationship, as low-testosterone men are less likely to stray, “and thus had longer relationships and were less likely to separate.” It is important to recognize, however, that this benefit only applies to women as long as they remain on hormonal contraception. When a woman goes off hormonal contraception, her bodily chemistry returns to normal, increasing her testosterone levels. This could cause her to change her attitudes toward sex, and alter how she feels toward her partner.
Similarly, hormonal contraception alters how a woman perceives men in the first place. Women have the amazing capacity to, through their sense of smell, sniff out and prefer men with a dissimilar major histocompatibility complex, that is, men with genes dissimilar to their own. The biological reason for this preference is simple: The more dissimilar the genes, the less chance there is of inbreeding, and thus the healthier the children potentially produced by a man and a woman. It is in part our natural preference for a dissimilar major histocompatibility complex that normally prevents us from being attracted to members of our family.
However, according to a 2008 study published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, women using oral contraceptives show the opposite tendency. They prefer men with a genetic makeup similar to their own. Their romantic chemistry has been altered. The problem with this is the same — once women stops using hormonal contraception, they may find their chosen partner less desirable.
All this has lead to serious concerns within the sexual health community. Sexual counselor Ian Kerner’s write-up on the issue, “Birth control may affect long-term relationships,” expresses this. He cites sexual health expert Dr. Madeleine Castellanos, who argues that “some of these side effects are so serious that I now urge young women to consider just using condoms and leaving the birth control pills behind.” He cites the advice of Dr. Craig Roberts — who lead both of the Biological Sciences studies – recommending ”women who met their partner while taking hormonal birth control should consider switching to another method several months in advance of tying the knot in order to assess whether their feelings for their partner will change or stay the same.”
Of course, it would be absurd to base the success of romantic relationships on biology alone. But it would be similarly absurd to ignore the reality that much of the crazy world of love, romance and sex is fueled by our chemistry, our genetics, and — yes — our smell. We’ve been sold the idea that contraception exists for the empowerment of women. Maybe it’s time to rethink, and to begin appreciating the value of a natural way.