Birth Control Pills vs Marital Relations

Robert L. Hartley hartley at scinter.aftac.gov
Fri Oct 13 18:35:11 EST 1995


THE ROLE OF BIRTH CONTROL PILLS IN INCREASING THE DIVORCE RATE

The Nov 95 Scientific American contains an article on page 20 about a
study in which women rated the attractiveness & sexiness of the odors from
men's tee shirts (slept in only, for two consecutive nights).

They also tissue typed the men & women (determined their major
histocompatibility complexes-HMC).  The study results showed that women
generally prefered men whose MHC results were most DIFFERENT from their
own.  The study supposes that this might confer a biological advantage to
the children by widening the range of their immune systems.

The study also noted that women with elevated estrogen levels from taking
the pill or from pregency consistently prefered men whose MHC was most
SIMILAR to their own MHC.  The study supposed that supportive relatives
might historically (a long-term biological, evolutionary point of view)
have been more reliable sources of support during pregency & thus might
account for the reversal in odor preference after the onset of pregnacy.


Accepting the above points for the moment, this raises some interesting
issues relating to the relations of married partners & the impact of the
pill.

1.  The article suggested that a woman who is on the pill when dating may
well select for marriage a man who's MHC is most SIMILAR, rather than most
DIFFERENT.  Then, at a later date if she goes off the pill, her odor
preference would reverse & she might find herself somewhat repelled by her
mate's odor instead of attracted.  I suggest that this effect would drive
up the divorce rate & reduce the number of two parent families.

2.  The converse has also got to be true.  A woman who is NOT on the pill
when dating may well select for marriage a man whose MHC is most
DIFFERENT.  Then at a later date if she goes on the pill (perhaps to avoid
having any more kids), then, as in the first case, her odor preference
would reverse & she would find herself somewhat repelled by her mate's
odor instead of attracted.  Again, I suggest that this effect would drive
up the divorce rate & reduce the number of two parent families.

3.  It also suggests that if she were not on the pill during dating, then
during pregancy she will be more likely to be troubled by her mate's odor
(& thus perhaps have more marital spats) than would occur for the converse
situation where she was on the pill during dating.  Of course, this is a
transitory situation that reverses after the baby is born.

4.  The bottom line seems to be that marital success rates could be
improved by either the consistent non-use of birth control pills before &
after marriage, or by the consistent use of birth control pills before &
after marriage.

5.  If the above conjectures are valid, then a study of divorce rates
should show some level of correlation to use of birth control pills. 
Might be an interesting study or two in here for either you sociological
or medical types.  Perhaps the condom or contraceptive foam industries
might put up a research grant.

rlh

-- 
Robert L. Hartley, Jr.                         Mysteries of the Ages
Senior Physcist                               Secrets of the Universe
Hartley Pseudo-Enterprises                      (Prices Negotiable)



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