And I’ve never heard about it before. So there’s this genetic code we all carry around called MHC that has like 100 genes that are involved in building our immune system. Because having a variety of genes to pull from makes you better equipped to fight disease, we’re apparently hard wired to sniff out mates with complementary genes rather than genes that are too similar. And I mean sniff literally – you can smell them. Now get this:
In 1995, Swiss biologist Claus Wedekind determined MHC-dissimilar mate selection tendencies in humans. In the experiment, a group of female college students smelled t-shirts that had been worn by male students for two nights, without deodorant, cologne or scented soaps. Overwhelmingly, the women preferred the odors of men with dissimilar MHCs to their own. However, their preference was reversed if they were taking oral contraceptives. The hypothesis is that MHCs affect mate choice and that oral contraceptives can interfere with this. A study in 2005 on 58 test subjects showed similar results.
I first read about this in Psych Today or Scientific American mind and lifted the above from Wikipedia. The point is if you choose a mate while on contraceptives, and then get off of the contraceptives, your nose knows if it was a good match. This psychobiologist (awesome title right?) Charles Wysocki summed it up: “on a subconscious level, her brain is realizing a mistake was made – she married the wrong guy.”
That’s fucked up.
Sure the sample size is probably too damn small, but if it’s true and it’s been true since 1995, you’d think the doctors prescribing this stuff would offer a warning. Or there might be a sticker next to “Take with food” that said something like “Do not commit to legally and morally binding relationships.”
It also means there is a killer new dating methodology waiting to be commercialized. Imagine signing up and sending or receiving t-shirts to sniff in order to choose your dates.