While we're all familiar with some of the potential side effects of taking the contraceptive pill—including acne, weight gain, and mood swings—new research published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology journal suggests the daily intake of hormones can also have a previously undocumented impact on how we process emotions.
The study assessed 73 women (18 didn't take the pill, 25 did take the pill but were on their week off, and the remaining 30 were taking the pill at that time) in three different areas: their ability to have perspective on a situation, their emotional recognition, and their levels of empathy.
And interestingly, it was discovered that in the "perspective" area, which also took into consideration how emotionally responsive the women were, there was a great deal of difference between the women taking the oral contraceptive and those who weren't.
Which leads scientists to believe we have a lesser ability to process emotions, and struggle a little more with empathy thanks to the hormones the pill gives us; especially so during the week without the pill every month.
So while it's always been known that the contraceptive pill can cause mood swings and heightened emotions, it's never really been considered that it could also numb us slightly to how we feel.
In the study, as a measure of affective responsiveness, subjects were asked to read theoretical situations designed to trigger a particular emotion; they were then asked to pick which emotion they would feel if the scenario was happening to them.
And it was discovered that the women currently on the pill were much more emotionally astute in this test than those who took the pill but on their week off. But Sina Radke, a neuroscientist from Germany's Aachen University, who worked on the study, warned of the repercussions this could have on relationships.
"If oral contraceptive use is linked to a reduced ability to recognise emotions, this might ultimately have negative consequences for relationship quality… by leading to more conflict," she advised.
But it's okay really, because we've now got a new excuse for why we start arguments with our partners. Perfect.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.