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New research suggests that taking hormonal birth control might influence how much stock you put into an attractive face.

Rachel Swalin
November 20, 2014

You'd like to think you weigh a lot of qualities when it comes to finding the right partner: You might look for a good sense of humor or someone who's caring and passionate. And, you know, it certainly doesn't hurt if they're good looking. But new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggests that taking birth control might influence how much stock you put into an attractive face.

You see, researchers suspect that hormonal birth control may cause some women to value facial attractiveness less while on the pill, but more so when they stop taking it, says Michelle Russell, the study's lead researcher and a graduate student in psychology at Florida State University.

"Previous research has demonstrated that women’s mate preferences change across their ovulatory cycles," Russell says. For instance, a study out of the University of California Los Angeles published in February found that women prefer a mate with more masculine body and facial features when ovulating.

"Many forms of hormonal contraception weaken the hormonal processes that are associated with these shifts in preferences," Russell says.

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In two studies of nearly 120 heterosexual couples, the researchers at Florida State University recruited wives to report on their hormonal contraceptive use and their marriage satisfaction over the course of four years or just one year. Then, "trained observers" rated the guys' looks.

No matter how much time had passed, researchers found that all women who were taking birth control at the start of their relationship and later stopped felt differently about their marriage, for better or worse. Women with husbands rated less attractive than average were less satisfied with their marriage once they were off the pill. On the flip side, women who married a "looker" said they were more satisfied

That could be because a partner's attractiveness plays a stronger role in women’s satisfaction when they discontinue hormonal contraceptives, Russell says.
That said, we're pretty sure your feelings for someone shouldn't come down to a handsome face alone. Birth control or no, this is a great reminder to appreciate your partner's non-physical qualities.

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