So, scientists had a group of men wear t-shirts for a while, and then they gave the shirts to women to smell. The women picked out the men they thought they'd be attracted to, based only on their scent. And it turned out they'd picked men with dissimilar MHC genes to their own. Isn't that crazy? They could tell by the smell!
Well, more recently I found out what happened when those same women starting dosing themselves with the hormones in the birth control pill. They began to pick the wrong men:
After taking the pill, women shifted toward preferring genetically similar men. Women who did not take the pill slightly increased their preference for genetically different men....
The question, of course, is what happens when a woman taking birth control pills marries a man to whom she's attracted -- and then stops taking the pill.
Herz says marriage counselors who have never heard about these studies tell her that the No. 1 complaint among women no longer sexually interested in their husbands is that they can no longer stand how he smells.
And women aren't the only ones influenced in this way. Men are more attracted to women who are ovulating, and the scent of them triggers a testosterone surge. Pill users don't get that invisible pheromonal advantage in the middle of the month, since the Pill stops ovulation. This has a bearing on the next article too, in which a scientist speculates that the Pill is responsible for the shift from the masculine movie stars of the sixties to the baby-faced stars of today. Women prefer more masculine-looking men when they're ovulating, so it's a reasonable theory that a nation with more Pill usage and fewer ovulating women would begin to prefer less masculine-looking movie stars. I wonder if that's also why beards have fallen so far out of fashion?
Even the environment is affected by all this. Male fish in our rivers are becoming feminized, and studies have linked this to all the female hormones in the Pill that eventually seep into the water supply. Which leads to a disturbing question: if all the extra estrogen does that to male fish, what is it doing to male humans? According to research I remember but am too lazy to look up, infertility is a much greater problem than it used to be, even after accounting for the higher average age of marriage, and the human male sperm count has been dropping for decades.
Environmental problems and t-shirt studies aside, I wouldn't use the Pill not only because it's a contraceptive but because it's an abortifacient. That is, it not only acts to prevent ovulation (and thus conception), but when breakthrough ovulation occurs anyway and the resulting egg is fertilized, it's unable to implant in the womb because of how the Pill's hormones affect the lining of the uterus, so the embryo dies instead. That information needs to become much better known, since it's very pertinent to the decision of anyone who believes that life begins at conception!
But anyway, I find all this research fascinating. How do you like knowing how much you're affected by your hormones? Or better yet, by invisible, odorless pheromones, wafting from someone else's body, right up into your nose? I've encountered this whenever I live with other young women and we find our cycles synchronize... and it's just weird!