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We all know the typical symptoms of the infamous pill: mood swings, depression, weight gain, etc. But what if your hormonal birth control was affecting you psychologically?

Much of what attracts potential partners is scent. A person’s scent can give clues about their genetic composition. Humans are programmed to seek out people with genetics that are most dissimilar to our own. This is part of how we progress natural selection and create more genetically diverse offspring. (This phenomenon is also part of how we are genetically programmed to be against incest, as we do not want to mate with people who have similar scents to our own.) 

Studies have suggested that hormonal birth controls, such as the pill, can interfere with this biological process. Hormonal birth control prevents you from ovulating by convincing your body that you are pregnant. If you are already pregnant, there is no need to ovulate. When you are pregnant, or your body believes it is pregnant, your taste in men changes. The scents of those who are genetically similar to yourself begin to be more attractive than those who are dissimilar. When your body is in this state it desires to be nurtured, and life experiences teach us that we are typically nurtured by those who are genetically similar to ourselves, like family members. 

As long as your birth control pill doesn’t make you want to sleep with your cousin, what is the problem? Well, researchers have found that two people with more similar scents and genetic compositions are less likely to be able to satisfy each other sexually. Problems can also arise if you go off of your birth control while in a relationship with someone you chose while on the pill. You might find your attraction to them decreasing and your attraction to someone with a more desirable scent increasing. 

While fascinating, this information will most likely not make me stop taking the pill. But I will be more acutely aware of who I am attracted to, and I’ll make sure to give them an extra long sniff before I decide to commit. 

Margaret Bovard is a senior at Furman University from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and she is a Health Science major. In addition to being a writer for HerCampus, Margaret works in a cardiology lab on campus and participates in theater. She is very passionate about sustainability and hopes to be an alpaca farmer one day. Margaret is an old soul, in her free time she knits, cross stitches, and complains about her back pain :). She can not wait to see the impact that HerCampus will have on Furman's Campus.
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