Birth Control Affects Your Perceptions Of Other Women, So Maybe That's Why You're So Judgmental

There are plenty of health risks associated with hormonal birth control (though since without birth control you have an even bigger risk of babies, most women consider it a fair trade). But it turns out that hormonal birth control can not only affect your health and your pregnancy status, it can also affect the way you perceive other women. Weird, huh?

According to a small study published in Personality and Individual Differences, women taking higher doses of hormonal birth control are more likely to rank other women's appearance as more important. Most of the 42 women in the study were taking birth control pills, though some were using a vaginal ring. All of the birth control methods included both estrogen and progesterone. However, some of the women were taking low-dose contraceptives, while others were on ultra-low dose contraceptives. The researchers asked these women to rate pictures of men and women based on various characteristics, including attractiveness, energy, and health, and to rate the relative importance of these characteristics. They found that women on the higher dosage of hormones considered other women's looks to be more important.

So does this mean that birth control makes you a judge-y bitch? Not necessarily. This study only involved a small sample size, and there was no control group or blood tests to measure the women's actual hormone levels. Plus, the researchers didn't administer new levels of hormones, but only looked at the levels of hormones women were already taking, meaning that women who need higher doses might be somehow pre-disposed to focus on looks, with or without birth control. In short, it's impossible to know how seriously we should take the findings.

Still, hormones do all sorts of strange things to a person. It's not inconceivable that it would affect the way women perceive one another. After all, birth control has been linked to other sorts of emotional responses like jealousy.

Of course, whether or not birth control is making us objectify one another, this study is yet another reminder that things would be so much simpler if the safe, cheap, non-hormonal, male birth control would just hit the mainstream already. Because it seems just plain annoying that something so perfect should exist and be unavailable.

Image: Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay