Quick: How satisfied are you with your sex life? If you're coupled up, your answer may be swayed by your birth controlÃ¢â‚¬”or, more specifically, whether or not you started or stopped using hormonal birth control during your relationship, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science.
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You know your hormones influence your body in a ton of waysÃ¢â‚¬”affecting everything from your mood to the kind of sex you crave. And because oral contraceptives can impact your hormone levels, a lot of research has been done on how that might play a role in your attraction and libido. But until now, researchers hadn't done much in the way of studying how oral contraceptives affect actual relationship satisfaction.
This new study recruited 365 heterosexual couples and asked each person questions about their current relationship satisfactionÃ¢â‚¬”both sexual and nonsexual. The women also noted what kind of contraceptive they were using when they started the relationship and what they were using now.
Here's what they found: Women who started or stopped taking combined oral contraceptive pills during the course of their relationship were less sexually satisfied than women who never took the Pill and women who stayed on it the whole time. However, the women's nonsexual relationship satisfaction wasn't affected, and neither was the guy's satisfaction.
Essentially, it looks like stopping or starting hormonal birth control during a relationship made women less amped about their sex lives with their partners. So, um, why? We know that some research says birth control can lower your libido, though that wouldn't explain why satisfaction decreased after women went off the Pill. Interestingly, another study finds that the Pill can affect who you're attracted toÃ¢â‚¬”and even who you date. So is it possible that a change in hormones from stopping or starting the Pill could really make you less satisfied with your guy's bedroom skills? The researchers can't say for sureÃ¢â‚¬”they only found an association, not a cause-and-effect relationshipÃ¢â‚¬”but it's a pretty fascinating link!
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But don't let this scare you away from stopping or starting a new birth control method if that's necessary. Clearly, there are many valid reasons why you use the birth control you use, so this shouldn't be the deciding factor. And, as some women can attest, a change in pill use doesn't always mean lower sexual satisfactionÃ¢â‚¬”some women report a much higher libido once starting the pill since they have the comfort of knowing they're less likely to get pregnant.
The bottom line: Think of this more as an FYI. As lead author S. Craig Roberts, Ph.D., from the University of Stirling put it in the press release: "We hope our results will help women understand why they might feel the way they do about their partner when they change use."
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