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Sex?the New Frontier

Psychologists have found that taking birth control pills changes women's taste in men. Women on the pill like more macho types, with strong jaw lines and prominent cheekbones. These traits are linked to macho personality traits because testosterone builds up these bones during puberty, and higher testosterone is linked to aggression and dominance. However, women who are not on the pill go for more sensitive types without traditionally masculine features. Researcher Tony Little says, "Where a woman chooses her partner while she is on the pill, and then comes off it to have a child, she may find she is married to the wrong man." But it may not matter that much, because today's women have less sex than women did in the 1950s, before the sexual revolution.

According to the Kinsey Institute, 42% of women who live with male partners have sex two or three times a week, compared with only one in three married women. "People don't have as much sex as they used to," says Dr. John Bancroft. "Couples are often weighted down by double careers and childcare, and by the time people have been to the shopping mall and watched all the television they want, there is not much time for sex. We live in an age where there is little unfilled leisure time. Sex used to fill that gap."

When it comes time to have those kids, women who give birth to boys are more likely to experience complications than those giving birth to girls. "To ease anxiety, we often joke to women experiencing problems or prolonged labor that 'it must be a boy'?we wanted to see if there was any truth in this," says Maeve Eogan, of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin.

Her group studied 8000 babies born at the hospital between 1997 and 2000 and found that boys were 20% more likely to require instrument-assisted deliveries and 50% more likely to need caesarian sections. They were also more likely to be distressed and need blood sampling to check for a lack of oxygen. And mothers delivering boys were more frequently given oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates contractions.

"However, we don't want to scare women because 71% of male infants still had a normal delivery," says Eogan (compared to 76% of female infants). Eogan thinks there?s an "inherent vulnerability" in males that makes them less able to stand the stresses of labor. She says, "At least when we joke there is a difference between boys and girls, we can say there is a sound scientific basis to it and that we're not just bad mouthing the men."

Do women need instruction on how to avoid troublesome guys?

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