Tags: Health

How The Pill Might Be Ruining Your Relationship

Could your birth control be coming between you and your man?
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Ever wondered why Carrie Bradshaw went for a diaphragm when about 80% of her fans are on the pill? Perhaps it’s because she knew about more than just shoes – that the pill is wrecking our romances. A new study suggests, had Carrie been on the pill, she may have ended up with a man not quite so Big.

While the pill is convenient (it’s a lot less messy than a diaphragm), and helps with things like menstrual cramps and bacne, is it worth the havoc it may be wreaking on your love life?

Seeking Tall, Dark & Feminine?

A study of 85 couples who met when the woman was already taking oral contraceptives, and the same number of couples who met when the woman was not on the pill, found that the women in the first set picked men with more feminine features.

What’s the science behind this? By stopping ovulation and replacing the ebbs and flows of our normal monthly hormone cycle with a constant, fixed stream of synthetic hormones, the pill messes with the biological signals we send to and receive from guys.

In their book, The Pill: Are You Sure It’s For You? co-authors Jane Bennett and Alexandra Pope write, “If you’re struggling to attract a boyfriend consider that women on the pill don’t secrete copulins, which stimulate male sexual interest and behavior.”

Not Tonight, Honey. Or Tomorrow. Or The Next Day.

We hear so much about how the pill has helped us have more and better sex by replacing the major worry of an unwanted pregnancy with more minor concerns like, should we make a sex tape or not? But those tiny little tablets might be robbing the city of its sex. 

Our interest in sex is supposed to naturally reach its height when we’re fertile, as in ovulating, which we don’t do when we’re taking the pill. Plus, the newer oral contraceptives, like the popular Yaz and Yasmin, are anti-androgenic, which means they wipe out testosterone, giving you clearer skin but also dampening your sexual thoughts and feelings. So, even though you’ve never looked better, you’ll still trade sex for a good book and a bath.

Several studies have shown that at least half of women on the pill suffer from a lower libido, with one suggesting that this disinterest could be permanent, and continue even once you’re pill-free. The pill has also been connected to a decrease in the frequency and intensity of orgasms, and just within the last week the low-dose pill, which keeps estrogen levels at a minimum, was linked to increased pelvic pain during sex.

We’re Turning Into Stage 5 Clingers.

It's not just about the sex. The pill might well be messing up our moods so badly, the chance of having a good relationship is slim. Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, the director of Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, found women on the pill are twice as likely to be depressed, anxious, have poor self-esteem, feel irritable, hostile, and numb to experiences. Not the kind of personality traits you’d want to lead with on your Match.com profile.

Other studies have shown that women on the pill might even be more likely to be jealous and possessive. Bolstering these findings is anecdotal evidence from the many women who’ve gone online to share their experiences developing a fun little issue called Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (or ROCD) as a result of taking the pill. These women report becoming obsessively anxious and paranoid about their relationships, and being so needy and confused about their feelings,  they caused arguments and break-ups.

“We’ve seen the destruction of relationships, due to women becoming irritable, hostile and prickly when taking the pill. And then they look back and say ‘that wasn’t me’. There can be the breakdown of marriages,” Prof. Kulkarni describes.

Maybe it’s time to make that appointment for a diaphragm fitting. 

Holly Grigg-Spall is a women’s health writer and activist from Canterbury, England. You can find her @hollygriggspall.