A high-powered replication study finds no effect of starting or stopping hormonal contraceptive use on relationship quality



Jern P, Karna A, Hujanen J, Erlin T, Gunst A, Rautaheimo H, Ohman E, Roberts SC & Zietsch BP (2018) A high-powered replication study finds no effect of starting or stopping hormonal contraceptive use on relationship quality. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39 (4), pp. 373-379.

A number of recent studies have implicated that incongruent use of hormonal contraceptives (HCs) negatively affects various aspects of women’s romantic relationships. It has been suggested that women with incongruent HC use (a discrepancy in HC use status between when they first met their current partner and the time of study participation) report less sexual satisfaction and higher jealousy scores compared to women with congruent HC use. A similar effect has also been hypothesized for general relationship satisfaction, and recent findings suggest that the association between HC incongruency and general relationship satisfaction is moderated by women’s perceived facial attractiveness of male partners. Using a large convenience sample (N = 948) of Finnish women, we attempted to replicate previously reported findings but found no support for the HC congruency hypothesis, despite excellent statistical power (≥98.7%) to detect previously reported effect sizes. Instead, after dividing our sample into four groups based on HC congruency/incongruency, we found that the largest differences in jealousy, sexual satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction scores tended to be found between women who were consistent HC users and consistent non-users (i.e., between women with different kinds of congruent HC use). We also detected a significant main effect of current HC use on jealousy. We conclude that, as the effect size of the HC incongruency effect reported in previous studies was small, unequal distributions of current HC users within congruent and incongruent HC user groups may give rise to spurious HC incongruency effects in studies using small samples.

Hormonal contraceptives; Relationship satisfaction; Jealousy; Sexual satisfaction; Physical attractiveness

Evolution and Human Behavior: Volume 39, Issue 4

Publication date31/07/2018
Publication date online24/03/2018
Date accepted by journal26/02/2018

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Professor Craig Roberts

Professor Craig Roberts

Professor of Social Psychology, Psychology