Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Birth Control Pills Might Alter Mate Selection

Yahoo News runs a story about some studies which may indicate that the birth control pill influence women's choice of mate. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in England predict that "offspring of pill users are more homozygous than expected, possibly related to impaired immune function and decreased perceived health and attractiveness." The idea is that women who are ovulating tend to be attracted to Manly Men, but women on the pill are hormonally in a state similar to perpetual pregnancy. Therefore, the claim goes, that women on the pill will be less likely to date the captain of the football team, and instead hook up with president of the role-playing club. It is important to note that the "impaired immune function", et cetera, of the predicted offspring are not a result of the woman actually taking the pill, but because of the 'less reproductively sound' mate she chose because the pill clouded her judgment.

Not everyone agrees, however. Dr. William Hurd of Case Medical Center is skeptical:
If you don't take into account society maybe we're all animals, but in social situations I don't think there are many women who change who they would mate with at different times of the month. It might change desires or perceptions but, gee whiz, that's a long stretch to changing who you would date, or even who you would go to dinner with.
Also, I may be wrong here, but I would think that many women taking the pill are doing it because they are already in a relationship (and therefore have chosen their "mate").

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