Blog entry on Ladyblog–Culture11.com
Is birth control at least partly to blame for relationship problems? A new study in Psychological Science claims that taking the oral contraceptive might contribute to a decreased sensitivity of smell, making you less likely to choose the right man.
Natural odor is a blueprint of an individual’s immune system composition, or the pool of genes called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Men and women who have different MHC are more compatible than couples who have similar ones. From Scientific American:
[The] preference… has probably evolved because it helps offspring survive: couples with different MHC genes are less likely to be related to each other than couples with similar genes are, and their children are born with more varied MHC profiles and thus more robust immune systems.
The new study in Psychological Science claims that when you’re taking an oral contraceptive, your sensitivity to smell decreases and you’re more likely to choose men with similar MHC — possibly leading to a less satisfying relationship.
Women paired with MHC-similar men are less sexually satisfied and more likely to cheat on their partners than women paired with MHC-dissimilar men. So a woman on the pill, for example, might be more likely to start dating a MHC-similar man, but he could ultimately leave her less sexually satisfied. Then if she goes off the pill during the relationship, the accompanying hormonal changes will draw her even more strongly toward more MHC-dissimilar men
Conclusion? If you’re gettin’ down before gettin’ hitched, gettin’ on some other form of birth control besides the pill might be the best way to, uh, gettin’ it done.