Four Things You Didn't Know About Birth Control

  1. BC may alter your taste in men. Hormonal birth control determines the man a woman chooses to date. Scientists have found that a major component of women's attraction to a certain man is his major histocompatibility complex genes. Indicators of a man's MHC genes are found in his scent. Typically, women are attracted to men with MHC genes different from theirs.This is nature's way of minimizing inbreeding and, thus, promoting a stronger, healthier human race. However, a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that women using a hormonal birth control are more likely to be attracted to men with similar MHC genes. This may later become an issue if the woman stops taking her birth control, and finds herself no longer attracted to the man.
  2. The "period" you get between birth control cycles is not an actual period. Hormonal birth control pills prevent pregnancy by inhibiting menstruation, so the bleeding that occurs is called withdrawal bleeding. It is a result of the change in hormone levels, not the shedding of uterine lining and an egg. Many women will attempt to avoid withdrawal bleeding by taking active hormonal birth control pills continuously. No evidence shows this is harmful; indeed, hormonal birth control like the Mirena IUD and Implanon remain in the body for years, continuously supplying hormones that prevent withdrawal bleeding. However, not all women are able to suppress withdrawal bleeding in this manner.
  3. BC is probably not the reason you gained weight. Early versions of the birth control pill had higher doses of hormones and caused many women to gain weight, but most modern iterations do not. Numerous studies have found no link between combination pills and subsequent weight gain, although the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points out that progestin-only pills can cause women to put on some pounds.
  4. Male BC is in the future. Though researchers are loathe to put a date on when we can expect it, they say that both hormonal and non-hormonal birth control options for men are on the way, with research efforts supported by high-profile groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Case in point, last summer scientists discovered a molecule that dramatically lowered sperm counts in mice and that could, one day, be used in humans.