The pill, or the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), brought about a revolution for women in the 1960s when it was first commericially available. The COCP allowed women to easily, safely and cheaply take control of their reproduction. It was no small deal that women in greater numbers than ever before now felt safer from the risk of getting pregnant by accident, for many women it was truly the concrete reason pushing forward women’s liberation. COCP was also of great benefit to women who suffered from endometrious and other menstral disorders and it has contributed enormous good to society by reducing the numbers of unwanted children in our society to a point where we now import unwanted children from other countries to meet demands for adoption.
However, like all drugs, it needs to be treated with respect. Many women today take the pill as though it’s their entitlement and consequently may have a poor understanding of how it works and that there are serious side affects that can harmful not only to them but to everyone else. This is not a cheap shot at shaming women, it is a sincere desire to warn women of at least one of the side effects of the pill.
The Sweaty T-Shirt Experiment
In 1995 a Swiss scientist carried out an experiment into human mate selection. He, Claus Wedekind, discovered that women were most attracted to the shirts worn by men with the least similar Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). Other studies found evidence that children born to parents with signficantly differing MHC have greater resistance to disease, including HIV and hepatitus. Indeed, there is a lot of evidence that sexual reproduction’s greatest benefit is providing a strong immune system for complex organisms like human beings.
Women appear to have good noses; good noses for men who would help them to produce healthy disease resistance children. This could explain why many women might reject an otherwise very attractive man because his smell just might be warning her that he’s too much like her genetically. Sorry for this particular attractive man, but nonetheless good news for the species. Good evidence that it’s most helpful to let women decide whom they think is best for them to have kids with.
However, the COCP has an unexpected side effect: it reverses women’s scent preferences for men. It is important to remember that as far as a woman’s body is concerned, when she’s on the pill, she’s perpetually pregnant. While no one knows why pregnancy might reverse a women’s preferences for male body odor some have speculated that once pregnant a woman no longer needs to risk going out to meet unfamiliar men with differing MHCs. Instead, she would be safest being protected by her father, brothers, uncles and male cousins whom she now feels more comfortable being around because their MHC is most similar to her own.
However, women on the pill these days will go out and meet the potential fathers of their children while they are on the pill; while their bodies think they’re pregnant. While they’re attracted to men with similar MHCs instead of differing ones. This is potentially a whole load of bad news.
Since the pill was introduced there has been an explosion of women having one child marriages. This is one hypothesis to explain why this might be the case: young woman on the pill meets strapping young man she falls in love with. After a while said woman and man decide to get married and have children. Woman comes off pill and while she’s still with the man she loves and knows so well… something about him is different. He’s just not as exciting and heart-thumping sexy as he used to be. Putting these feelings aside because it’s probably just nerves or stress at work she soon finds herself pregnant and as if to confirm her suspicion it was stress she relaxes again. However, after the baby is born she once again finds herself feeling obstinantly unattracted to her lover. Her libido hasn’t changed, because she’s feeling turned on by other men, but she just doesn’t seem to have any lust for her husband anymore.
So it might end. Why it ends though is still difficult to answer. She still loves him, but at the same time she’s not attracted to him sexually. She feels trapped and frustrated with her relationship and quickly both parties clutch onto desperate reasons to explain why it had to end: all of which could be neither person’s fault. All of which could be the result of the pill.
The damage, however, does not stop at the failed relationship and a family interupted. The couple may have unwittingly brought a child into the world with a lower resistance to disease and greater risk of congenital problems. If all women used the pill in this way our civilisation socially, culturally and genetically might well be eroded out of existence. The low birth rate of western countries might well be caused by this and not simply women’s conscious choices not to have smaller families.
What we can do about it
I’m not proposing that we ditch the COCP, it is an extremely valuable drug, however, we definitely need to wisen up in how we use it. Women could choose to wait until they get to know a man better before going on the pill or they could go off the pill for a few months before deciding whether or not she wants marry him or start a family with him. I don’t know how good the education in girl’s schools are about the COCP but I suspect it could be much better than it is. Please let me know if you’re a woman reading this how and what you learned about the pill. Also, there are other pros and cons to taking the pill that women should learn about but I’ve not mentioned in this article. The pill should never be treated as though it is a simple remedy for a simple problem. Instead, women should think carefully about why, when and which COCP is best for them. Ultimately though, everyone else can put some confidence in women’s noses to know what’s best for them too.