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Use of the Pill May Influence Choice of Partner

pillsA contentious research study from the UK suggests the contraceptive pill may disrupt women’s natural ability to choose a partner genetically dissimilar to themselves.

University of Liverpool scientists believe disturbing a woman’s instinctive attraction to genetically different men could result in difficulties when trying to conceive, an increased risk of miscarriage and long intervals between pregnancies.

Passing on a lack of diverse genes to a child could also weaken their immune system.

According to background information in the article, humans choose partners through their body odor and tend to be attracted to those with a dissimilar genetic make-up to themselves, maintaining genetic diversity.

Genes in the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), which helps build the proteins involved in the body’s immune response, also play a prominent role in odor through interaction with skin bacteria. In this way these genes also help determine which individuals find us attractive.

The research team analyzed how the contraceptive pill affects odor preferences. One hundred women were asked to indicate their preferences on six male body odor samples, drawn from 97 volunteer samples, before and after initiating contraceptive pill use.

Craig Roberts, a Lecturer in Evolutionary Psychology who carried out the work in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, said: “The results showed that the preferences of women who began using the contraceptive pill shifted towards men with genetically similar odors.

“Not only could MHC-similarity in couples lead to fertility problems but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the contraceptive pill, as odour perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners.”

Source: University of Liverpool

Use of the Pill May Influence Choice of Partner

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Use of the Pill May Influence Choice of Partner. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/08/14/use-of-the-pill-may-influence-choice-of-partner/2751.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.