New side effect discovered in women taking the Pill, scientists claim | The Sun

SCIENTISTS claim to have discovered a potentially new side effect of the Pill.

Women who take hormonal birth control may be less competitive than those who do not.

It’s not the first time researchers have claimed to find alterations in women’s personalities when they take hormonal birth control. 

Experts at the University of Melbourne asked 278 female students, from 21 countries, to answer questions on topics including their sex drive, self-esteem and competitive drive over the course of a 28-day cycle.

Of them, 86 used either the Pill or other hormonal contraceptives, such as the implant or patches. 

Women on hormonal birth control did not show a boost in competitiveness around the time of ovulation like those who were not on birth control did.

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In fact, researchers reported that women taking hormonal contraception saw their motivational drive “flattened” as it was six times lower than those who didn’t take the Pill.

But they did caution that their study was small and observational, which does not make it the highest standard.

In a natural cycle, a woman's behaviour may change in tandem with her hormones.

For example, women are said to be more anxious just before ovulation – when oestrogen is high – but calmer when it drops after ovulation.

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Confidence is higher in the ovulatory phase, as is competitiveness, according to this study, published in the Adaptive Human Behaviour and Physiology journal.

It’s theorised this may benefit women during ovulation because this is when they are most fertile, and likely to get pregnant. 

This would also fit with findings that women feel more sexually desirable and attractive mid-cycle – but hormonal contraceptive users do not.

Lead researcher Lindsie Arthur-Hulme, a PhD candidate, told WAtoday: “Over generations of women, we’ve evolved to have these fluctuations that benefit different goals or outcomes.

“Hormones are doing that to our bodies, because people can’t compete all the time. We need to do other things, like eat and sleep.”

She said that, for women not on the Pill, the middle of the month may be he best time to book a job interview or tackle a particularly challenging task.

Writing in The Conversation, Ms Arthur-Hulme said "hormonal contraceptives directly affect three hormones that have been linked to competitive behaviour: testosterene, progesterone, and a type of estrogen called estradiol".

She and her team had reviewed tonnes of evidence on the Pill and how it affects women.

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One study showed women on birth control may have lower achievement motivation, and another showed lower persistence.

But the team did not find strong evidence that the Pill influences that type of man a woman chooses to date, as previously suggested.

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