We can now blame it on the pill .. TO millions of women, it has been the great liberator over the past four decades, allowing them the freedom to control their fertility and their relationships. But the contraceptive Pill could also be responsible for skewing their hormones and attracting them to the "wrong" partner. A study by British scientists suggests that taking the Pill can change a woman's taste in men - to those who are genetically less compatible. The research found that the Pill can alter the type of male scent that women find most attractive, which may in turn affect the kind of men they choose as partners. It suggests that the popular form of contraception could have implications for fertility and relationship breakdowns. The findings, from a team at the University of Liverpool in Britain, add to growing evidence that the hormones in the Pill influence the way that women assess male sexual attractiveness. The Pill is thought to disrupt an instinctive mechanism that brings together people with complementary genes and immune systems. Such a couple, by passing on a wide-ranging set of immune system genes, increase their chances of having a healthy child that is not vulnerable to infection. Couples with different genes are also less likely to experience fertility problems or miscarriages. Experts believe that women are naturally attracted to men with immune system genes different to their own because of their smell. Commenting on the latest study, the researchers said it could indicate that the Pill disrupts women's ability to judge the genetic compatibility of men by means of their smell. They said this might not only affect fertility and miscarriage risk, but could also contribute to the end of relationships as women who stop or start taking the Pill no longer find boyfriends or husbands so attractive. Several previous studies have suggested women tend to prefer the smell of men who are different from them in a cluster of genes called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which governs the immune system. Some studies have also found that this effect is not seen among Pill users. The latest study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, has now assessed the impact of Pill use in the same women, both before and after they began using oral contraception. The research also found differences between women in relationships, who tended to prefer odours of men with different MHC genes, and single women, who tended to prefer the smell of MHC-similar men. The Times http://www. theaustralian. news. com. au/story/0,25197,24177890-5013404,00. html..