Researchers have found that when women stop taking oral contraception, their satisfaction with their relationship changes, including how attractive they find their partner. This surprising result is thought to be caused by the hormonal changes that occur in a woman as they go on or off the pill. 

In a study, 118 newlywed couples were followed for four years while women completed surveys on how satisfied they were with their relationship and whether they were taking oral contraception or not. When women stopped using the pill, researchers found that those married to less attractive partners, based on objective measurements such as symmetry and complexion, became less satisfied with their relationship. Partners with objectively beautiful characteristics, however, were found more satisfying when women stopped the contraceptive. 

Michelle Russell, a psychologist at Florida State University, responded to the study by saying that the hormonal changes caused by the pill may have further reaching consequences than we thought:

“Marital satisfaction is strongly associated with mental and physical health and a host of physical, mental and social outcomes for children.The fact that wives’ hormonal contraceptive use was linked to their marital satisfaction suggests that hormonal contraceptives may have far-reaching implications, both beneficial and harmful.”

In her Big Think interview, psychologist Esther Perel explains how erotic desire changes during the course of a committed relationship. In our time, she says, contraception has made marriage more turbulent by making sex an object from which happiness can be derived: 

Read more at the Guardian

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