Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Pill & Our Relationship

In the last 50 years there is this tiny thing that change the world: anti conception pill. It is so profound that it is simply known as the Pill. While it helps women in some ways, I think it also change our relationships for better or worst.

When a woman meets a man, not only we take cues from what we can see, hear, or feel, our hormones also play role. Through our olfactory nerve, we exchange our pheromones and major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Each of us has a different set of MHC that encode various part of our immune system. Those who have different kind of immune system are more likely to be biologically compatible. When we are biologically compatible, we are more likely to be attracted to one another, it is our survival instinct.

Alas, the Pill changed that.

Apparently, women who use the pill, their preference shift toward the scent that is similar to their own gene. It means, women instinct to select a partner with whom she has more chance of having healthy children or less miscarriage is altered by the pill.

Not only the pill affects our fertility, it also affects our relationships. Instinctively, women look for 'more masculine features' kind of partner during her ovulation, while they prefer 'more sensitive' kind of partner when they are not. Women on the pill are not ovulating, the pill tricks their body into thinking it is pregnant. This might be a factor of why we have around 50% divorce rate. If a woman on the pill chose her more feminine partner, by the time she is off the pill, she might follow her instinct and find her a more masculine partner, and her old relationship might break down.

Apparently couple with similar MHC are less satisfied, adventurous and responsive in sexual matter. The women who have similar MHC with their partner reportedly have more fantasies about other men during ovulation, and they also reported more infidelities. I guess the fact that women bore the physical side of having offspring made women reacted this way toward MHC. Men on the other hand, dont have any correlation between similarity in MHC with their partner and their orgasms, infidelities nor fantasies.

An interesting result on a study involving exotic dancers, those who are not using the pill received 50% more tips than their counterpart, especially when they are ovulating. It means men perceive non-pill-using women as more sexy.

Another side effect of the pill that might disturb any relationships are weight gain. Let's be honest, some guys dont even want to date someone who is slightly over weight. So, if a woman started to gain weight due to her pill, he might've ended the relationship.

For some women, pill can alter their moods, some even made them depressed. It is not easy dealing with a depressed person, unless the woman changes their pill (not all pills created equal) the pill might ruin it for her.

So, yes, the pill helps liberated women all over the world, but it has a darker side that can ruin their relationship: it might push away the potential suitable partner based on their olfactory preferences.


colson said...

Very informative. To be honest I have to admit that I had only scanty knowledge about all this. Your article is pretty convincing.

A few remarks in the sideline though.

I doubt whether feminine men jeopardize marriage in the long run (I mean when the woman is no longer on the pill.) Actually being/having a slightly feminine husband is an asset in households were, as a consequence of increased gender equality, there has to be a more balanced division of labour in the household.

And secondly increased rates of divorce were already a significant social problem before '60. Increased wealth (you have to have sufficient money to be able to bear the financial burden of a divorce) and less social control (the diminished social control of the Church, priests and ministers in the second half of the 20th century), have had a much larger effect than the pill had.

By the way: one of these days I will try to ask my wife in a casual way what she smelled the first time we met :)

triesti said...

Colson, you are right that the more feminine guy is an asset, they are more nurturing. That's why when women are not ovulating they are into such guys. The trouble is, when they are ovulating, their instincts look for the other guy because apparently they have better chance of procreating or something, so the chance of infidelity increase.

In I dont know about divorce rate prior to the pill introduction, but divorce is not that common over here until the 80s/90s, methinks. I dont think getting pill is that easy for unmarried women in Ind prior to that. I know in NL as young as 13 years old can get it pretty easy at the GP. So imagine how your perception would be affected by it if you start using it since that young.

Vertel..vertel.. :D

colson said...

"Vertel vertel..".

Tja, daar zeg je me wat.

Zelf heb ik die pillen natuurlijk nooit geslikt. Ik moet dus voorzichtig zijn met beoordelingen. Hooguit zou ik een mini-enquête bij mijn vrouw en dochter kunnen uitvoeren.

Maar dat laat ik maar beter uit mijn hoofd, geloof ik. Trouwens, zover ik kan nagaan zijn ze ondanks de pil allebei behoorlijk monogaam. Wat uiteraard niets over hun fantasieën zegt.

Wel weet ik zeker dat de generatie van mijn kinderen dankzij die pil onder andere, uitgebreider en beter hun seksualiteit hebben kunnen verkennen voor ze in een huwelijk terecht kwamen, dan de generatie van mijn vrouw en mij.

Hoe dan ook, ik heb het sterke vermoeden dat ook voor 1960, zonder pil, partners er lustig op los fantaseerden. En ook toen zat in het hoofd van die ander in bed echt zo nu en dan, wellicht zelfs vaak, een derde persoon. Masculien of feminien, maar ik elk geval "verboden" en daarom alleen al opwindend.

Nou is er, voor zover ik weet, geen longitudinaal onderzoek naar libidineuze fantasieën gedaan. Nancy Friday's journalistieke case-studies over vrouwelijk hitsige gefantasiën (My secret Garden en Women on top) verschenen pas in de jaren zeventig en negentig. Die leveren dus ook al geen bewijs voor of tegen de invloed van de pil.

Kortom, het blijft gissen. Voor mij althans.

triesti said...

vorig jaar moest ik 'em hebben voor mijn uit balans hormoonhuishuiding. het duurde maar 10 dagen, ik had zo veel last van, mijn cyste vererger, mijn mood vererger, en.. ik werd net als andere vrouwen: shoppen! Normaal doe ik het niet zoveel. :)

Oh btw, some women experience lower libido while using the Pill, which is very ironic, dont you think?

colson said...

Beroerd, zeg. Dat was wel een heel nare reden. En ook onaangename gevolgen. Ik kan me voorstellen dat je de "dark side" van de pill aangestipt hebt. Overigens hoop ik dat alles nu weer beter gaat.

And 'Lower libido'?

Never noticed. But then, aren't we men are that selfish that we don't pay any attention to our partners at that specific moment?:P