SC Roberts, AC Little, RP Burriss, DL Cohen, KD Cobey, K Klapilová, J Havlíček, BC Jones, LM DeBruine & M Petrie (2014). Partner choice, relationship satisfaction and oral contraception: The congruency hypothesis. Psychological Science, 25(7): 1497-1503. doi: 10.1177/0956797614532295

Hormonal fluctuation across the menstrual cycle underpins temporal variation in opposite-sex attractiveness judgments. Use of combined oral contraceptives (COCs) could therefore influence both initial partner choice and intra-pair dynamics if contraceptive use subsequently changes. Associations between COC use and relationship satisfaction may thus be best understood by considering whether current use is congruent with use when relationships formed, rather than by considering current use alone. Here we test this congruency hypothesis in a survey of 365 couples. Controlling for potential confounds (including relationship duration, age, children, income), we find that congruency in current and previous COC use, but not current use alone, predicts women’s sexual satisfaction with their partner. Congruency was not associated with women’s non-sexual satisfaction, nor with satisfaction of male partners. Our results provide empirical support for the congruency hypothesis and suggest that women’s sexual satisfaction is influenced by changes in partner preference associated with change in COC use.

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