You probably already know that taking oral contraceptive pills can alter your hormones. But did you know that they could also change how attractive you find your partner –– which, in turn, affects marital satisfaction once you're off the pill?
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that women who use hormonal birth control either value other people's good looks less while on the pill or are less able to judge who's actually good-looking.
The study examined 70 heterosexual couples for one year and an additional 48 heterosexual couples during four years of marriage. The researchers asked the couples about their birth control use and their marital and sexual satisfaction. They also asked impartial judges to rate the attractiveness of the husbands' faces based on photographs.
The researchers reported that the women who began their relationships while on the pill became less satisfied with their relationship after they stopped taking it — but only if their husbands scored low in attractiveness. In contrast, the women who married the men who were ranked higher in attractiveness were more satisfied in their relationships after they went off birth control.
In other words, birth control gave these women something like "beer goggles," and once they took them off, some were disappointed in their partner's hotness level, while others were able to see their partner's hotness more clearly. Study leader Michelle Russell told Live Science that this is because "women prioritize attractiveness differently when they are on versus off [hormonal contraceptives]."
While the researchers were able to control for many factors that might affect women's marital satisfaction — like whether or not she was pregnant or her husband's marital satisfaction — Russell still warns that the study's design makes it hard to prove that the hormones were the direct cause of the change in satisfaction. So this study shouldn't be used a basis to determine whether or not to use birth control.
Does this mean you should only go prowling for a potential mate when you're off the pill? Absolutely not. Birth control has its share of unappealing side effects, so if it's only turning your man's Donald Trump hair-nest into a Bradley Cooper flow, things could definitely be worse.