The truth about relationships and the Pill. What your mom and Dr. did not know to tell you!
Information from Joy's vodcast, "Intelligent Love: 411 for Men"
It all starts with the Swiss Scientist Claus Wedekind at the University of Bern asking women to smell a bunch of sweaty t-shirts. He asked women to smell t-shirts worn by unwashed and unknown men and then to rate which shirts they found most appealing. Weird, right? Subconsciously, it turns out most women gravitate toward the smell of men who have the polar opposite immune system, and thereby opposite smell of their father's and brother's. But…here's the Pill connection. Women who were on the pill were most attracted to men who smelled like their father or brother.
You might be asking yourself how does this change in a woman's preference of which sweaty t-shirt they like correlate to the 50 % divorce rate? Well, often women are on the pill when they get married, but off the pill a few years later once they've had kids. When kids come into the picture you and your partner have a whole new internal chemical cocktail which is designed to keep you together at least until the child can walk and eat on its own, often till age four.
This may also be responsible for what is known as the classic seven-year itch (a couple years before the kid comes you are in the attraction phase of the relationship, then nine months of pregnancy and four years of child raising.) Around the time when their child becomes four and the woman is still off the pill she may begin to smell things a bit differently. Her nose may now lead her in a different direction, especially during ovulation when her internal biology is telling her to choose the best mate with which to reproduce. Subconsciously, women want to find a mate with the polar opposite immune system from her own so that her children will, through natural selection, have the best combination of immune genes to survive. It appears as though humans use smell as one of the components in finding a good partner and the cluster of genes they are sniffing for are called the major histocompatibility complex, or MHC. Each person has their own combination of MHC genes that encode various components of their immune system. Scientists have proven that the more varied an individual's MHC, the more robust their immunity.
To take it one step further, studies from fertility clinics report that embryos conceived by parents with dissimilar MHCs are more likely to make it to term then are those whose parents have significantly similar MHC genes. A geneticist at the University of Chicago, Carol Ober explored the influence of MHC in her studies of couples in the Hutterite religious clan, an Amish-like closed society that consists of some 40,000 members and extends through the rural Midwest. Hutterites marry only other members of their clan, so the variety in their gene pool is relatively low. Even with this small population, Hutterite women tend to find partners who are MHC complementary. Reiterating other findings, Ober found the few Hutterite couples with a high degree of MHC similarity, suffered higher rates of miscarriage and experienced longer intervals between pregnancies, indicating more difficulty conceiving. So making your mate selection when on the pill may have major ramifications down the road.
MHC genes we now know control how the immune system recognizes and fights off viruses, fungi and bacteria. Studies are also finding that men and women with complementary MHC genes are not only attracted to one another but they may also have an easier time procreating. Research has taken it a step further to relate MHC to mate satisfaction in the bedroom.
In 2006, researchers at the University of New Mexico studied 48 couples' patterns in the bedroom. Conclusions reported that women with dissimilar MHC genes to their partner tended to be more satisfied, responsive and adventurous in the sexual arena. In fact, during ovulation they experienced more orgasms. Women with MHC similar mates, reported more fantasies about other men, especially during their ovulation. They also reported more infidelities.
Christine Garver-Apgar, a psychologist at the University of New Mexico, links relational difficulties in the long-run with heterosexual couples to similar MHC profiles. Garver-Apgar reports the number of MHC genes couples shared corresponded directly with the likelihood that they would cheat on one another; if a man and woman had 50 percent of their MHC alleles in common, the woman had a 50 percent chance of sleeping with another man behind her partner's back.
Interestingly, men's frequency of orgasms, fantasies and infidelities was not correlated to their partner's MHC genes. However, the preferences in women were directly affected to whether or not they were taking birth control pills or were on other hormonal contraceptives. Due to the fact that women bear the most physical toil when it comes to bearing and raising their children, it makes more sense that they would be more discriminating in sniffing out MHC compatibility.
With all of this new research coming out, matchmaking has taken a scientific turn. ScientificMatch.com combines genetic testing, dating and the internet to come up with scientifically matched couples. One caveat to joining is that they don't accept women on birth control. When you join, you take a cotton swab to the inside of your checks and send them the sample.
Their "member benefits" boasts that its chemically selected partnerships will have better sexual relations, increased fertility, healthier kids, less cheating and for the lucky women… more orgasms.
Just to prove your noses, as guys, are working well for you even though you might not pick up on MHC genes as well as women. Studies prove that through your sense of smell, your nose leads you to be most sexually attracted to the object of your adore when she is ovulating, thus likely to conceive if she sex with you.
Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico and author of The Mating Mind, studied a group of exotic dancers and found that "non-pill-using dancers made about 50% more in tips than dancers on oral contraceptives." In other words, women who were on the pill were only about two-thirds as sexy as women who weren't. Interestingly, the non-pill-using dancers made the most during the days they were ovulating.
Several studies indicate that men rate women as smelling best when they are at the most fertile point of their menstrual cycles-ovulation. This suggests women give off scent-based signals that broadcast their level of fertility. "The pill might be producing cues that a woman is in the early stage of pregnancy, which would not tend to elicit a lot of male sexual interest," Miller says. "It makes sense for men to be sensitive to that and for them not to feel the same chemistry with the woman."
Many women are on the pill because they want to enjoy a certain amount of sexual freedom. Ironically, these women may be pushing away potential suitors based on their suitor's olfactory preferences. The pill prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg, fooling the body into thinking it's pregnant. So women on the pill, may be eliciting odors of being pregnant and since pregnancy is such a vulnerable state, it seems to activate a preference for attracting those who are genetically similar to us and are likely to serve as protectors.
Under it all we are humans. The intricate dynamics of our internal chemistry of what makes us men and women is still being discovered. But rest assured when we attempt to alter one area through the use of the pill or other ways to modify our natural chemistry, other aspects of our overall being will most definitely be affected. When we gain a deeper understanding of relationship and human patterns, we see the foundation of why we do what we do and in turn work with these patterns instead of fighting them.
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About Joy Nordenstrom:
Joy Nordenstrom delights in the ways that romance and loving action improve the quality of life. Through the Joy of Romance, she enjoys providing event planning for parties of two, a gathering place for romantically inclined individuals, educational support, romance coaching, as well as, the exciting accessories that go along with the creation of life's magic moments.
Before embarking on her mission to excite and educate people about making romance an essential priority for their relationship success, Joy ran the operations of several businesses. Occupations have ranged from modeling to party photography, from vice president of a start-up importing/exporting motorcycle company to starting her own New Zealand wine importing business, and from being a Chief Operation Officer of an entertainment company to the Director of Sales Development and Marketing of a loyalty card business.An entrepreneur since she can remember; she has a strong work ethic built on a commitment to integrity. As described by her colleagues, Joy is a professional who embodies the qualities of fearlessness and adaptability. These two qualities, along with her commitment to make a positive impact in the lives of those she serves, are engrained within the mission and passion of Joy of Romance. Joy holds a MBA from Mills College, in addition to a bachelor's degree in communications and business economics with a minor in studio art and psychology. She is a certified matchmaker from the Matchmaking and Behavioral Science Institute in New York City, a business coach to entrepreneurs, and an organizational consultant.