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  • Dr. Susan Caldwell

How Birth Control Disrupts Male/Female Attraction



We can simply adopt the “ignorance is bliss” attitude when it comes to acknowledging the potential harmful effects of birth control on women’s bodies. I’ve even heard doctors say things like “I know that there are potential side effects but it is also very risky to be pregnant, so I believe the benefits of birth control outweigh the risks”. Unfortunately, these doctors may have never truly considered all of the risks of hormonal birth control. When I first heard about how the hormones in artificial birth control alter the way women and men are attracted to one another, I was astonished. This reason is near the top of the list of reasons why I will not prescribe artificial hormones to adolescent girls.


Let’s recall that in each monthly cycle, a woman’s ovaries make two powerful hormones that must not be taken for granted – estrogen and progesterone. They are important in keeping women healthy and have beneficial effects on every cell in a woman’s body. When a woman takes artificial hormones (via birth control pill, patch, shot, vaginal ring, etc), she typically does not ovulate and therefore does not make estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuating hormones affect her on many levels - biological, emotional and relational.


The natural hormones made by the ovaries play a huge role in determining which men she will be attracted to during her lifetime.


When a woman is having healthy, natural cycles, she will be more attracted to men who are genetically different from her (this is a good thing). Conversely, when a woman is on birth control, she will prefer men who are genetically similar to her. When she is taking birth control her hormone levels do not fluctuate as they would during fertile cycles but instead follow more of a steady-state pattern that resembles the hormonal pattern during pregnancy. Simply stated, pregnant women prefer to be around genetically similar family members who can help with child-rearing and are not necessarily interested (at that time) in seeking out a genetically dissimilar partner with whom to have children.


This is not a conscious phenomenon but is subconsciously directed by circulating chemical messengers made by men and women known as pheromones. Women unknowingly detect these chemicals through her sense of smell when interacting with men. Pheromones carry distinctive genetic information about each person’s immune system known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).

When we disrupt this system by ingesting artificial hormones, there are potentially serious consequences:

  • We can mistakenly choose a partner that is genetically similar to us. This can cause disruptions in the immune systems of the children who are conceived as a result of that relationship.

  • We can mistakenly choose a partner to whom we are only temporarily attracted. When the artificial hormones are discontinued, a woman may no longer find her husband attractive. This could lead to infidelity or divorce.


This information is widely available and should be more widely known by women, mothers and medical professionals. Here are two articles that summarize the research done in this area:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/birth-control-pills-affect-womens-taste/that


https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/intimately-connected/201901/do-contraceptive-pills-affect-attraction


Here is a YouTube video that helps to explain these findings:




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