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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Have You Read the Instructions?: The Birth Control Pill and Sexual Attraction

By Peter Drier (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (],
 via Wikimedia Commons
Does premarital use of the birth control pill impact marriage success?

We Christians tend to focus a lot on "right" and "wrong".  This is a good thing, I suppose.  As Christians, we have been instructed to keep the commandments.  Sometimes though, I think we may lose sight of the fact that the instructions we have been given are there for a reason.

The other day, while perusing Facebook, I came across pictures posted by a single young Christian woman of a trip that she took with a man from her church group.  In the album were several pictures captioned "our room".  It was quite lovely, actually, the bed strewn with rose petals and chocolates and such.  How far we have come.  It seems quite acceptable, in at least some Christian circles, to trash the instruction book in lieu of a focus on "loving" our Lord and being secure in one's salvation.

Young couple in love
By Garry Knight from Bromley, Kent, England (In Love)
[CC-BY-SA-2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
I'm not interested in a theological discussion of the nature of salvation here.  That's not what this blog is about.  Readers come from all walks of Christendom to visit here, and all are welcome.  What I am interested in, though, is the fact that there is more to "following the instructions" than meets the eye.

As a generation of women in their teens and twenties swallows artificial hormones each day in the form of birth control pills, we might want to take a look at the impact that might have on sexual attraction. We associate attraction with our eyes.  However, in large part, attraction is based on body odor.  The odor in question is mostly mitigated by genes related to our immune systems.  Women are attracted to men with immune systems different from their own.  This provides for a strong immune system in the resultant offspring.  It also probably protects women from producing children with men to whom they are related.  (Roberts 2008)

The pill does something interesting though.  The pill essentially confuses the body into believing that it is already pregnant.  Pregnant women are drawn to men in their families.  This is probably for protection in this vulnerable time.  As one might imagine, the pill has the same result.  Women on the pill are sexually attracted to men with immune systems similar to their own.  Of course, once a woman goes off the pill, the situation reverses.

Man and divorce
By Elena Cavinato (Man and divorce) [CC-BY-2.0
 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The obvious result is this: Choosing a spouse while on the pill is not such a hot idea, either biologically, or in terms of relationships.  When a woman meets and develops a relationship with a man while on the pill, and then later, goes off the pill to produce a family, her attraction to that man can change markedly.  In fact, a recent study has shown that women who chose their partner while on the pill have a lower level of overall sexual satisfaction than women who chose their partner while pill-free, and that their levels of sexual satisfaction decrease significantly more over time (Roberts 2011).  In fact, while there are likely multiple factors involved, there is evidence that couples using contraception may be more likely to divorce than non-contracepting couples.

Of course, there are non-hormonal methods of birth control, such as condoms.  In fact, if people are having sex outside of monogamous marital relationships, they ought to be using them.  But that is not really the point here.  The point is that following the manufacturer's instructions is not such a bad idea. Perhaps the "Me Generation" doesn't know what's in it for them.
Pax Christi,

Roberts 2008:
Roberts 2011:

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1 comment:

  1. I do know that the pill changes you. I have had to use the pill not for birth control but for feminine issues. I have seen the pill almost ruin a cousins marriage because she went on the pill right before her wedding because she was on Acutane and after she got married about 3 months later she was going completely insane with rage. It wasn't until I recommended a medicine free wash out period that we realized that it was the combination of the pill and the Acutane and the pill. She then went to her doctor and was placed on a topical for her acne and a very very low dose pill and her relationship with her husband improved. I am not against the pill for those that really need it for medical reasons but make sure that the medicine has been adjusted to take into account your weight. Yes lower doses of the pill are not quite as effective at preventing Pregnancy but once a christian is Married children are a natural part of the progression of the relationship.

    I do think that a lot of christians for get that Christ while he did forgive the prostitute, He also gave us the 10 Commandments that we should not fornicate. In modern language we should not have sex before we are married. Just because modern medicine, and technology can prevent pregnancy and some of the STDs doesn't make it right. Fornication is fornication. I chose as a child that I would never have Sex until I was married. I am now 34 years old and still not married but I also am still abstinent I have never had to fear my period being late or worry about STDs and I am grateful for that.

    I hate that now a days doctors just assume that women are just lying about being abstinent. In one Catholic Hospital I went to for an X-ray because it was of my low back they made me take a pregnancy before hand because the didn't want to chance causing damage to a fetus.


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