A study conducted by researchers from the University of Stirling indicates that use of contraceptive pills could influence a woman's choice of partners.
Dr. Craig Roberts, who led the research team that included seven colleagues, inquired into the possibility that use of contraceptive pills could affect how sexually satisfied women were and whether that degree of satisfaction was directly related to satisfaction with other aspects of their relationship -- and so were less likely to separate.
"Our results show some positive and negative consequences of using the pill when a woman meets her partner. Such women may, on average, be less satisfied with the sexual aspects of their relationship, but more so with non-sexual aspects. Overall, women who met their partner (while) on the pill had longer relationships - by two years on average - and were less likely to separate. So there is both good news and bad news for women who meet while on the pill. One effect seems to compensate for the other," said Dr. Roberts in a statement.
In earlier research conducted by Dr. Roberts, it was found that use of the pill altered a woman's preference for a man's body odor. Instead of preferring genetically different men, when women go on the pill, their preference switches to genetically similar men. This might mean that women using the pill choose a different type of man, than they would otherwise.
"Women tend to find genetically dissimilar men attractive because resulting babies will more likely be healthy. It's part of the subconscious 'chemistry' of attraction between men and women. Similarly, women's preferences subconsciously change over time so that during non-fertile stages of the menstrual cycle they are more attracted to men who appear more caring and reliable - good dads," Dr. Roberts explained.
"The hormonal levels of women using the pill don't alter much across a month and most closely reflect those typical of the non-fertile phases of the menstrual cycle. It seems that our preferences are shaped by these hormonal levels, so preferences of women on the pill don't change around ovulation in the way seen in normally-cycling women. Choosing a non-hormonal barrier method of contraception for a few months before getting married might be one way for a woman to check or reassure herself that she's still attracted to her partner," he explained.
The research was published on Wednesday, in the Royal Society journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.