Women who take the pill have increased levels of a hormone which triggers attachment and love, a new study has found.
Aarhus University has discovered that those on the birth control pill have high levels of the ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin in their blood.
The findings, published in journal Scientific Reports, could crucially help researchers understand why the pill gives some women heightened emotional spells, and makes them feel ‘needy’.
Study leader Professor Michael Winterdahl, from the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus, said: “Oxytocin is a hormone found naturally in the body and is secreted during social cues and bonding, reinforcing social behaviour.
“A constantly elevated level of oxytocin may mean that it is not secreted in the same dynamic way as under normal conditions. It is precisely these dynamics that are important to our emotional lives.
“This may explain why feelings such as closeness, attachment and love appear to be altered in some women who use birth control pills.”
The researchers collected and analysed blood samples from 185 young women in the US, and also asked the participants to answer a series of mental well-being questions.
They essentially wanted to find out why some women felt dissatisfied, when on the pill, if their social demands aren’t met by a loved one (or, in other words, if their cuddliness isn’t reciprocated).
Professor Winterdahl said: “Many women have used birth control pills at some point in their lives.
“Our study presents, for the first time, evidence for changes in the levels of oxytocin in response to birth control, providing a mechanism by which some women experience altered mood.
“Since oxytocin is important for attachment to a partner, one can imagine that the constantly elevated level is important – not only for the woman herself, but also in the broader sense of the relationship.
“Humans are super social beings, we are able to put ourselves in the place of others, show empathy, fear loneliness and seek community – all driven by the brain’s secretion of oxytocin.
“Even very small changes in brain oxytocin levels will affect the way we process emotions and thus how we interact with each other.
“Our study can help explain why some women on birth control pills experience a diminished sense of closeness, for example.”
So there you have it. Feeling super needy and lovey dovey? It might just be your contraception…