Oh, the tangled web we weave: another study suggests birth control skews a woman’s ability to find a good mate

Another study on how hormonal birth control skews women’s wiring. Via CNN:

A recent study shows that women with lower testosterone levels – typically caused by the use of hormone-based oral contraceptives like the pill – are more attracted to men who also have low testosterone levels.

Previous studies have shown that the less testosterone a man has, the less likely he is to cheat, the more supportive he is, and the better he is at providing for his family. Sounds good, right?

Not quite. Previous studies have also shown that most women are historically more sexually attracted to higher testosterone levels. And the mothers in the study who eventually went off birth control post-wedding reported less sexual contentment than other women; they found their husbands less attractive and less sexually exciting once they went off the pill.

Whoops. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for happily ever after, eh?

When a woman uses hormonal birth control containing estrogen, she decreases her levels of available testosterone. And while women have much less testosterone in their systems than men – women’s bodies contain about 10% the amount of testosterone men do – what they do have helps fuel sexual desire, fantasy and the ability to become naturally lubricated in response to arousal.

So it makes sense that when a woman’s testosterone levels are diminished even further by something like the pill, she might be left feeling blasé about sex: hence her potential attraction to a low-testosterone male.

So it may not be as much the issue of going off birth control as it going on it in the first place. Sexual health expert Dr. Madeleine Castellanos cautions women to think carefully about their choice of contraceptive: “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.”

Emphasis my own. Maybe Sandra Fluke should be thankful the pill is too expensive, no?

And what a warning this is:

Dr. Roberts says 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.

If a drug has the potential to skew your perceptions of reality–so much so that the man you’ve picked as a potential mate might not be the best mate–it stands to reason that it might have other long-term health effects. But don’t tell the feminists: after all, it’s not about your ability to settle down with one man, it’s about asserting your reproductive freedom to hook up endlessly without “suffering consequences” or some such nonsense, and, more recently, not even having to pay for it yourself.

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4 Responses

  1. About a year ago somebody–NoOne? Sandbox, maybe? Or perhaps just with my FB friends–posted on one of the earlier studies and a more than a few of us gals commenting were not surprised by the study results. We didn’t notice the man choice issue but did notice the libido issue. I’ll try to keep away from TMI, but the issue is too important to skirt around. Prior to children, I switched doctors from a dismissive woman to an older man when she brushed off issues I was baffled about. The first thing my new old-school doc did was put me on a lower dose pill which helped, but the problems did not completely go away until we switched to non hormonal birth control. The difference was pronounced, and from girl talk in the past 10 years, I’ve learned I wasn’t the only one. I have a close analogy. It is like when you are nursing a 4 month old who sleeps at night–you are getting rest and have time but you are just not that interested in marital relations, mentally or physically. The pill mimics that. Post childbearing, most of my girlfriends purposefully avoid hormonal birth control precisely because of the libido issue.

    • @AH, I’ve long been fascinated by studies on the pill and how it skews a woman’s perceptions. I think my favorite was one that showed ovulating women preferred Bruce Willis, whereas if placed on the pill, the women found him repugnant. Such a type A male!

      No such thing as TMI here. We’ve all been sold a false bill of goods. I was in a unique situation with two endocrinologists screaming that I had to take hormones only to find out the adage “God protects fools and babies” to be true. I had to take blood thinners. They wanted me to stay on the pill while shooting myself up daily. How’s that for asscrackery? But he’s a doctor. He knows best.

      That anyone is advised to take hormones while nursing is beyond me. (It’s safe, they say, such a little amount goes into breastmilk. We worry about the same types of hormones in cow’s milk, but it’s ok to give to our own babies?!)

      We’re a NFP family (or FAM, if you will) all the way. I learned more about my body reading “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” than I had in years of doctor’s visits. I thought I knew a lot. I didn’t. Feminists who are hellbent on suppressing fertility artificially–the easy way, they tell us–should be shot for denying legions of women the truth about their bodies and how it all works. There are consequences far beyond the basic warnings.

  2. I received a B.S. in psychology in 1985 from University of Illinois. U of I at the time took the position that all psychology was based in biology. My professors all said that BCPs should be avoided because we did not understand the full effect that they were would have on the neurology and psychology of a woman

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