Birth controlled? Hormonal birth control effects on relationships

    Birth controlled? Hormonal birth control effects on relationships. (Photo: ABC7)

    Birth control pills may alter the way you choose and view your mate. And not in a good way. There’s some science that suggests you're not yourself when you're on the pill.

    “I have no desire to be with you at all. I have no attraction to you at all. I don't even know why I married you."

    Jackie Aguilar couldn't believe those thoughts were in her head. The new bride went from madly in love, to marriage remorse, seemingly overnight.

    "The only thing that changed was I started taking the birth control pill,” said Aguilar. Is it possible that the pill changed how she felt about the man she'd just married?

    Some research says yes.

    A number of studies show that hormonal birth control: pills, rings and IUD's, can alter how a woman views her mate.

    So "Mr. Right," could suddenly become "Mr. Wrong."

    “These are powerful steroid hormones that have significant effects on the female body," said Dr Marguerite Duane. She’s a family physician with special interest in women’s health and fertility. She’s also teaches at Georgetown University.

    Dr. Duane says hormonal birth control suppresses a woman's natural hormones, changing to whom who she's attracted.

    "What researchers have found is that women who are on hormonal birth control, the men that they choose are not the men they would choose if they were not taking hormonal birth control,” said Duane. “And this makes a difference in relationships because if they stop taking the birth control pill, they may find they're no longer attracted to the partner."

    As an example, Duane says when a woman is not on hormonal birth control she is likely to choose someone who is her opposite, displaying traits different from her own and features that are distinctively masculine.

    Duane says hormonal birth control puts a woman’s body into a pseudo pregnancy state, so the woman is more likely to seek out someone similar to herself, nurturing and with features that are more feminine.

    Jackie Aguilar wasn't on the pill until she got married, so she says getting off of it brought her back to the relationship she recognized.

    “It was like a light switch,” said Aguilar. “All of a sudden, I was back to being attracted to my husband, I was back to all this physical desire."

    Research published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," or "JAMA," also suggests that hormonal birth control could trigger depression.

    The study, of more than a million Danish women showed a correlation between the two and depending on the device, the study found hormonal birth control users to be 23-to-60 percent more likely to be prescribed anti-depressants than non-users.

    Mayra Olivera says she didn’t recognize herself on the pill. “Right away what I noticed, definitely mood swings. Very depressed,” said Olivera.

    Olivera says when she went on the pill she changed and it put her marriage in jeopardy.

    “I was okay for a minute,” said Olivera, “and within seconds I was just upset, mad, like there was nothing he could do right for me not to get mad."

    And like Jackie Aguilar, the feelings for her husband vanished.

    “I didn't even understand myself,” said Olivera. “I fell in love with this man, to me was just the perfect man and he was my everything, so for me to not be able to see him that way anymore, to be so mad at him but at the same time just mad at myself, sucked."

    Mayra says after doing some research she went off the pill, and turned her love life back on. Like Jackie and her husband, both couples are using fertility awareness based methods that don't include hormonal contraception.

    “In the 21st century, women should be informed that there are not only benefits to birth control, but there are some serious and real side effects to using birth control,” said Dr Duane, “and women need to be aware so they can make a fully informed choice."

    Dr Duane says more research is still being done - but if you notice inexplicable changes, talk to your doctor.

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