Women who take the contraceptive pill miss out on a hormone that drives motivation when they are ovulating, a new study has found.
The world-first study from the University of Melbourne found that those who were not on any hormonal contraception reported a higher increase in their motivational drive around the time of ovulation, compared to participants who were taking the pill.
In fact, researchers reported that women taking hormonal contraception saw their motivational drive “flattened” as it was six times lower than those who didn’t take the pill.
To get these results, researchers asked a group of women to answer regular questionnaires designed to capture their levels of competitive drive.
In total, 278 female students across 21 countries were asked questions on their self-esteem, sex drive and competitive drive over the course of a 28-day cycle.
Of these women, 192 were not using hormonal contraceptives, while 86 were on the pill or used other forms of contraception such as the patch or the implant.
Lead researcher Lindsie Arthur-Hulme told the Sydney Morning Herald: “Over generations of women, we’ve evolved to have these fluctuations that benefit different goals or outcomes.
“Hormones are doing that to our bodies, because people can’t compete all the time. We need to do other things, like eat and sleep.”
The findings, published in the Adaptive Human Behaviour and Physiology journal, found women who weren’t on the pill experienced a “mid-cycle increase in a domain-general motivation to compete and achieve in order to benefit the self”. This same pattern was not observed in those using hormonal contraceptives.
Scientists have previously theorised that the reason women may be more motivated during the time of ovulation as this is when women are most fertile.