7 Shocking Ways Your Birth Control Changes Who You're Attracted To & More
When getting on the birth control pill, many women worry about potential side effects, such as increased mood swings or even breakouts. Most women don't think twice about how the pill could influence their sex drive, among other things. How birth control changes attraction may come as a shock, but being on the pill can impact everything from who you feel drawn to, to how often you are in the mood.
"Birth control medication temporarily leads to a partial shut down of a particular communication pathway in a woman's body called the 'hypothalamic pituitary ovarian axis," gynecologist Dr. Brett Worly at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Bustle. "Components in this communication network are responsible for fertility, regulation of periods, and more. In some women, this temporary partial communication shut down can also negatively impact sexual desire, lubrication, orgasm, and sexual pleasure."
It may sound strange, but the birth control pill can have effects far greater than protecting pregnancy, and they're worth paying attention to if you choose to use it — especially if you think it might have an effect on your relationship. Here are seven shocking ways your birth control pill can change who you're attracted to and other areas of your life.
1. It Can Make You More Attracted To People With Similar Genes
Women who are attracted to men who are not on birth control tend to be attracted to the scent of men who are genetically different from them. But women on the pill are attracted to the scent of men who are more genetically similar, according to research from the journal The Proceedings of the Royal Society B. When a woman is on the pill, her body is fooled into thinking it’s pregnant, which can affect attraction. Pregnant women tend to seek out family members, which could explain why heterosexual women on the pill gravitate toward more genetically similar men.
2. It Can Make You More Attracted To People With More "Masculine" Features
For women attracted to men, birth control can also change the type of man they find attractive based on their features. Women off of the pill tend to be more attracted to men who have conventionally "masculine" features, while women on the pill don't prioritize attractiveness as much, according to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Because of this, sometimes women who get off the pill while in a relationship may find that they are less attracted to their partner if they got together with him while on the pill.
3. It Can Increase Your Sex Drive
Many women actually experience a higher sex drive when on birth control. One study found that women taking the pill had higher levels of sexual desire with their partners than women using non-hormonal methods. "Hormonal contraception may temporarily stop women from having periods, making them more comfortable having sex more days out of the month," says Dr. Worly.
4. It Can Decrease Your Sex Drive
While some women experience an increase in their sex drive, other women can experience lower libido. "Hormonal contraception can impact mood, which may negatively or positively impact sexual interest," says Dr. Worly. Lowered testosterone could also be the culprit when it comes to a lower sex drive. Additionally, hormonal contraception can negatively impact a woman's natural lubrication, which may negatively impact her sexual experience, says Dr. Worly.
5. It Can Affect Your Skin
Some women experience improved skin, which might play a role in their sexual desire. "Hormonal contraception may reduce acne for a woman, which may improve her self-confidence, reduce her social anxiety, and help improve desire, lubrication, orgasm, and sexual satisfaction," says Dr. Worly. Taking birth control pills lowers androgen hormones, including testosterone, which can reduce acne, according to WebMD.
6. It Can Cause Mood Swings
Hormonal contraception can impact mood which may negatively or positively impact sexual interest, says Dr. Worly. In fact, hormonal birth control might also be associated with an increased risk for depression, according to a study from the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Another study published in Fertility and Sterility found mood, well-being, self-control, energy levels, and general happiness with life were all negatively affected by being on the pill.
7. It Can Put You At Greater Risk For Yeast Infections
Many women find they have more frequent yeast infections when on the pill. This is because birth control messes with your levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can lead to conditions that are more likely to cause a yeast overgrowth, according to Healthline.
Everyone has different experiences on the pill, but if you find you are experiencing negative side effects, talk to your OB/GYN about a method of birth control better suited for your lifestyle.