Birth-Control Pills May Turn Your 5 Boyfriend Into an 8

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Photo: Christian Steinhausen/Getty Images

Women have been saying for a long time that the pill does more than keep us baby-free. Some side effects of hormonal birth control are nice, like what it does to your skin and your boobs. And some are not-so-nice, like the thing where it makes you not even want to have sex, anyway. (At least we’re definitely not getting pregnant?) Whether the latest reported side effect is a pro or con depends on how conventionally good-looking your partner is, and how committed you are to the relationship.

New research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that women who are on the pill care less about how conventionally attractive their long-term partner is. (Consider it scientific rationale for all the movies where average-looking dudes score remarkably beautiful women.) As a result, women who are either on or off the pill for the entirety of their relationship report greater sexual satisfaction than those who go back and forth.

If you choose your husband while you’re on the pill and later go off it, you might wake up to a gender-reversed Shallow Hal situation. According to Florida State researcher Michelle Russell, women who have untainted menstrual cycles are more interested in conventionally attractive men. So if a woman's husband is conventionally attractive, she gets a “satisfaction boost” from going off the pill. She can now clearly see and appreciate his hotness. If her husband is not conventionally attractive, she can suddenly see hotness elsewhere, outside her relationship. But she could always take the blue pill, and return to blissful ignorance inside the monogamy matrix.