Women on hormonal contraception: a behavioral biopsychosocial perspective
Newmark, Rebecca L.
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SubjectContraception; Oral contraceptives; Contraception Psychological aspects; Women Sexual behavior; Menstrual cycle; Birth control; Ovulation; Mate selection Psychological aspects; Risk-taking (Psychology)
Normally cycling females experience natural cyclic shifts in their physical appearance and in various psychological traits (Haselton & Gildersleeve, 2011; Alvergne & Lummaa, 2009). When women use hormonal contraception (HC), these natural cyclical changes are no longer present (Welling et al., 2012; Miller, Tybur, & Jordan, 2007). Many physical differences between hormonal contraception users and non-users have been examined (Shulman, 2011). However, far fewer psychological and behavioral traits that are likely associated with hormonal contraceptive use have been studied. My goal was to examine relevant dispositional and behavioral traits that differ in hormonal contraceptive users and non-users. The variables examined include life history strategy, sociosexuality, intrasexual competition, social support and risk-taking behavior. One’s life history strategy is indicative of one’s mating pattern among other attitudes and behavior relevant to reproductive success. Sociosexuality is an individual’s tendency to engage in promiscuous behavior. Intrasexual competition is the competition among members of the same sex over mates and status. I included these variables based on the broad prediction that a lack of ovulation leads women to spend a higher proportion of time in a state of long-term mating (with the idea that these women do not experience the ovulatory state so wellnoted for leading to various short-term mating tactics). Thus, women on HC were predicted to show markers of a relatively slow life history and a relatively restricted sociosexuality, coupled with low levels of both intrasexual competition and risky behavior. HC users reported to engage in between-group competition risk-taking more heavily compared to non-users in their ovulatory phase. HC users reported a more restricted sociosexuality in terms of the desire facet compared to non-users. HC users reported to receive higher levels of social support compared to normally cycling women. Lastly, HC users reported to be more intrasexually competitive compared to normally cycling women in their ovulatory phase.
hormonal contraception, life history strategy, sociosexuality, intrasexual competition, female social support, risk-taking behavior