Fiurašková K, Roberts SC, Kaňková Š, Hlaváčová J, Calda P & Havlíček J (2022) Oral contraceptive use during relationship formation and current relationship satisfaction: testing the congruency hypothesis in couples attending pregnancy and fertility clinics. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 135, Art. No.: 105451. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105451
According to the congruency hypothesis, relationship satisfaction is predicted by the congruency (or non-congruency) between current use of oral contraceptives (OC) and their use during relationship formation. This is based on reports that OC may alter women’s mate preferences, so that attraction to their partner may have changed in non-congruent women. Indeed, some studies find that women in a non-congruent state were less sexually satisfied with their partner, although they were more satisfied in non-sexual aspects of the relationship. However, some other studies have produced null results, calling the hypothesis into question. In this study, we tested the congruency hypothesis in two samples of pregnant women and their partners, and in two samples of couples attending a fertility clinic. In all four samples, couples completed questionnaires on relationship and sexual satisfaction and the women also reported their previous and current contraceptive use. In one sample of pregnant women, we found that women who used OC during relationship formation were more sexually satisfied with their partner compared to women who did not use OC at that time; this pattern has previously been interpreted as supporting the congruency hypothesis in view of certain similarities in hormonal profile between OC use and pregnancy. We did not find any significant effect of OC use during relationship formation on sexual and relationship satisfaction in the other sample of pregnant women, either sample attending the fertility clinic, or in the male partners of any of our samples. Our results thus provide mixed support for the congruency hypothesis. Finally, we discuss recommendations for future studies such as use of within-subject designs and more structured assessment of sexual satisfaction.
Hormonal contraception; Pill; Relationship satisfaction; Congruency hypothesis; Mate choice
Psychoneuroendocrinology: Volume 135