Hormonal contraceptive use and mate retention behavior in women and their male partners



Welling LLM, Puts DA, Roberts SC, Little A & Burriss R (2012) Hormonal contraceptive use and mate retention behavior in women and their male partners. Hormones and Behavior, 61 (1), pp. 114-120.

Female hormonal contraceptive use has been associated with a variety of physical and psychological side effects. Women who use hormonal contraceptives report more intense affective responses to partner infidelity and greater overall sexual jealousy than women not using hormonal contraceptives. Recently, researchers have found that using hormonal contraceptives with higher levels of synthetic estradiol, but not progestin, is associated with significantly higher levels of self-reported jealousy in women. Here, we extend these findings by examining the relationship between mate retention behavior in heterosexual women and their male partners and women's use of hormonal contraceptives. We find that women using hormonal contraceptives report more frequent use of mate retention tactics, specifically behaviors directed toward their partners (i.e., intersexual manipulations). Men partnered with women using hormonal contraceptives also report more frequent mate retention behavior, although this relationship may be confounded by relationship satisfaction. Additionally, among women using hormonal contraceptives, the dose of synthetic estradiol, but not of synthetic progesterone, positively predicts mate retention behavior frequency. These findings demonstrate how hormonal contraceptive use may influence behavior that directly affects the quality of romantic relationships as perceived by both female and male partners.

Mate retention behavior; MRI-SF; Hormonal contraception; Mate guarding; Hormones; Estradiol

Hormones and Behavior: Volume 61, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2012
Date accepted by journal16/10/2011

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Professor Craig Roberts
Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology