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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"The Pill Makes Women Pick Bad Mates", By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer,, 12 August 2008

Not only is this study's publication brand new this week, its findings apparently have already been observed and published after being "fully peer-reviewed to the highest standards," quietly and without any media coverage I'm aware of, 11 years ago:
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are involved in immune response and other functions, and the best mates are those that have different MHC smells than you. The new study reveals, however, that when women are on the pill they prefer guys with matching MHC odors.
Past studies have suggested couples with dissimilar MHC genes are more satisfied and more likely to be faithful to a mate. And the opposite is also true with matchng-MHC couples showing less satisfaction and more wandering eyes.

"Not only could MHC-similarity in couples lead to fertility problems," said lead researcher Stewart Craig Roberts, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Newcastle in England, "but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the contraceptive pill, as odor perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners."
Here's the link for the current study on the Proceedings B of The Royal Society: Biological Sciences journal.

It's interesting that this finding first was published 11 years ago, without any fanfare. Here is that older study (1997), which also found that "the MHC or linked genes influence human mate choice." The earlier study's abstract is also from Proceedings B of The Royal Society: Biological Sciences:
Their [121 men's and women's] scorings of pleasantness correlated negatively with the degree of MHC similarity between smeller and T-shirt-wearer in men and women not using the contraceptive pill (but not in Pill-users).
Meaning, the Pill users were attracted to those with more-similar MHC smells. (Remember, "the best mates are those that have different MHC smells than you.")

I'll leave the details of my own personal history out of this, but as I was on the Pill for well over 10 years to try to stem the advance of my endometriosis, suffice to say that isn't this a "well, well, well!" This explains a LOT!


1997 study:
Body odour preferences in men and women: do they aim for specific MHC combinations or simply heterozygosity? Authors C. Wedekind, S. Füri
Proceedings B of The Royal Society: Biological Sciences
Issue Volume 264, Number 1387/October 22, 1997
Pages 1471-1479
Full text

2008 study:
MHC-correlated odour preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives
Proceedings B of The Royal Society: Biological Sciences
Authors S. Craig Roberts, L. Morris Gosling, Vaughan Carter, Marion Petrie
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2008.0825
Online Date Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Full text

Cross-posted on ProlifeBlogs.

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