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Birth Control Pills May Make Women Settle For Less

Update Date: May 30, 2013 05:27 PM EDT

Ladies on the pill listen up.  Birth control pills may be making women less competitive and more jaded when it comes to snagging and keeping Mr. Right, according to a new study.

A new study suggests that women become less competitive with each other when they are on the contraceptive pill.  Researchers warn that this psychological side effect can make women more likely to take their partners for granted.

While the study authors stress that they aren't urging women to throw away their pills, they believe women should be made aware that oral contraceptives could have psychological and physical side effects, according to the Daily Mail.

The latest study conducted at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, involved a group of young women when they were taking the Pill and when they got off it.

Researchers said the women, who were between the ages of 20 and 31, completed surveys designed to measure intra-sexual competition or whether they saw other women as friends or enemies.  They found that women in relationships were less competitive when they were on the Pill.  Researchers said that this indifference towards other women could make them less likely to fight to keep their men if another woman were to catch his attention.

Researchers believe this could be because the pill suppresses testosterone levels, a hormone that triggers rivalry in both men and women.  However, researchers believe the desire to meet a partner could override the hormone influence of the Pill among single women.

"If hormonal contraceptive use reduces a natural propensity for partnered women to compete for mates it may mean that many women in our contemporary population, where hormonal contraceptive use is widespread, have a reduced ability to attract new mates or to maintain their existing partner," lead researcher Kelly Cobey wrote in the study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

"In light of our findings, women using hormonal contraceptives may be at a disadvantage in that they are less likely to seek out or switch to a new partner from whom they might acquire additional benefits," Cobey said.

"Women who use hormonal contraceptives may settle and start families with partners who they otherwise would not," she added. 

Other experts questioned Cobey's interpretations of the new study.  They argued that some highly competitive women may have chose take the pill because it helps pacify some of their pre-menstrual tension and other problems that can hold them back.

Fertility expert Dr. Allan Pacey told the Daily Mail that the findings were "intriguing" but that they still need to be confirmed by additional studies.

"I don't think there's sufficient evidence for doctors to start issuing a health warning to women," he added.

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