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How Birth Control Pills Change Which Men Women Are Attracted To

October 3, 2016 by Justin Lehmiller

Women’s behavior changes in several ways when they reach the most fertile part of their menstrual cycle–that is, when they ovulate. Among other things, research has found that ovulating women fantasize about sex more often and are more likely to wear red or pink clothing. Interestingly, ovulation also appears to change which kinds of men heterosexual women find most sexually attractive, such that they tend to be drawn to “manlier” men during peak fertility.

So what happens when women take birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives that prevent ovulation? The end result is that they don’t experience these same cyclical shifts in their patterns of sexual attraction and behavior.

Given that they influence the kinds of men that women find attractive, what implications do birth control pills have for women’s relationships? That’s the subject of my latest column over at Playboy. Research suggests that being on the pill might not only influence who heterosexual women choose as partners, but how satisfied they are with their relationships in the long run.

Check out the full article for a closer look at the research. While you’re over at Playboy, check out the rest of my Hard Science column to learn more about the science of sex. Some of my other recent articles include:

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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