The pill acts like 'beer goggles' for women who feel less attracted to partner when they stop taking it, says study

·3-min read
Researchers have found the contraceptive pill contains hormones which can change the way women feel about their partner (Getty Images)
Researchers have found the contraceptive pill contains hormones which can change the way women feel about their partner (Getty Images)

More than 3.5 million British females - including a quarter of all those between 16 and 49 years old - currently take the contraceptive pill.

With 99% reliability, what has become simply known as ‘the pill’ has revolutionised women’s sex lives in the UK since it was introduced in 1961.

However, a new study has suggested it could have an impact on who we find attractive - by acting as a sort of ‘beer goggles’.

Researchers found that those in relationships who stop taking it, or switch to a different version, experience a change in how they feel about a partner.

Read more: The coronavirus lockdown is making it difficult for women to get their birth control topped up

According to scientists, the pill contains hormones which can influence women’s emotions and who they decide to be with.

This means they may pursue a partner who might not have appealed to them if they had not been taking it.

Discussing the findings in a recent paper, researchers Andrea Meltzer and Juliana French from Florida State University, wrote: “Across the course of long-term romantic relationships, women begin and discontinue using hormonal contraceptives numerous times, regularly altering their hormonal profiles and brain structures.

“Such changes may be detrimental for women’s relationships, particularly for their sexual relationships.”

Read more: New research may have found a link between the contraceptive pill and a lower risk of ovarian cancer

They looked at 203 heterosexual women who had recently got married, and followed them for their first four years of marriage.

The study found that those who stopped taking or changed their pill after tying the knot experienced reduced sexual satisfaction compared with those who were not using it.

That’s because the pill uses synthetic hormones to suppress the natural hormones which control fertility, called oestrogen and progesterone.

It is these which can “alter women’s brain structures”, note the researchers who added that changing contraceptive regimes had the power to risk the happiness of relationships.

Read more: Morning after pill now available for same-day home delivery

The study comes as it was revealed the coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on how women access the pill and other contraception.

Due to the government’s social distancing rules, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) are urging women not to visit a clinic in person, and to only access services if their need for care is immediate.

In a statement, Dr Anne Lashford, vice president of the FSRH, said: “Women must be able to access safe and effective contraception during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Their first port of call should be the place where they have accessed care before - that could be their GP or their local sexual and reproductive healthcare clinic.

“Women should not attend the clinic in person, but make contact by telephone or email instead. Women will be asked to participate in a telephone or video consultation to discuss their needs.

“This is to minimise the potential spread of COVID-19 and to avoid unnecessary travel. If further examination is required, a face-to-face appointment may be arranged.”

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