Effects of the
Hormonal Contraceptive Pill Affect Mate Choice?
Monthly hormonal cycling in
women and the resulting biological attraction to genetic dissimilar
men has been suggested to bring evolutionary benefits in terms of
reproductive success in humans. Fertile women are more attracted to
men who are masculine and genetically unlike themselves. Men are
more attracted to women who are ovulating than to those who are not.
A 2009 published review of
past research reports that oral contraceptive use may affect how
women and men choose mates and the resulting human reproductive
outcomes. By altering hormonal cycles in women, women and men are
affected in their biological responses to the opposite sex. This
could mean they will choose less “desirable” partners biologically
and that could hinder successful reproduction in the future and
possibly affect long- term relationships. Since large segments of
women worldwide take the birth control pill, more studies are needed
to answer these questions.
When fertility is at its
maximum mid-cycle, a woman will find attractive and want to mate
with men that have more masculine qualities who are not similar to
her genetically. Women taking the Pill are in a state that mimics
pregnancy and will have not have these hormonal shifts. When a
woman is not fertile, she will be attracted to men who are more like
her genetically as she is looking for those men who she thinks would
be more supportive of childrearing.
Researchers are asking if
this trend can affect the health of offspring from genetically
similar partners. Time taken to conceive, pre-eclampsia incidence
and reduced birth weights are areas that could be affected.
Researchers are also asking if women on the pill, when they choose a
mate or who start or stop the pill during a relationship, are
affected in their desire or preference for their partners and if
that affects the relationship.
Since the known effects deal
with short term (during the cycle) mate preferences, research
doesn’t answer the question of whether hormonal use will affect
long-term relationships, durability, satisfaction, the ability of
the couple to reproduce and the reproductive success of offspring.1
et al. Does the contraceptive pill alter
mate choice in humans?Trends in
Ecology and Evolution, October 2009