Oxford University researchers believe real-life 'love pills' - that solve common marital woes and keep the passion alive - could soon be making their way into a marriage counselling session near you.

Despite the fact that marriage is having a comeback after 40 years of decline – we’re still 200 more likely to file for divorce than a century ago.

According to recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), recession-hit couples do try and stick together, but marital disharmony (caused by the pressures of job losses, uncertainty about the future and rising debt) often gets the better of them, causing divorce numbers to soar.

And with weekly reminders about high-profile unions, such as loved-up (and extremely wealthy) Heidi Klum and Seal hitting the rocks, combined with the worrying fact that one in three men don't marry for love - is it any wonder we struggle to keep the love alive?

But before you give up on love altogether, consider this – could the solution lie in a simple pill?

Not that pill (the contraceptive type that apparently alters a woman’s love for her partner) but a drug that is a potent concoction of essential neurohormones that make us fall – and stay – giddy in love.

According to a team of neuroethnicists, who have written an in-depth paper about the possibilities of a psychopharmaceutical ‘love drug’ - this could well be the future of marriage counselling.

Yes, soon you’ll be able to cut out the middle-man (the Relate counsellor) and get a prescription for love. Perhaps.

In Neuroenhancement of Love and Marriage: The Chemicals Between Us, Oxford University researchers Julian Savulescu and Anders Sandberg claim that scientists may soon be able to interfere with the biology of human attraction with the help of chemical blockers and enhancers.

To do this, they would have to create a pill that contains the “modulators of love”, which could potentially help us stay together longer, increase attractiveness and decrease infidelity.

The essential ‘ingredients’ of the pill are:

Pheromones
These are odourless chemicals that trigger emotion responses, mainly sexual and attractiveness, between the opposite sex. If this was popped into a pill, it could potentially help people maintain the attraction they first felt for their partner.

Oxytocin and Vasopressin
Also known as the ‘bonding chemicals’, oxytocin and vasaopressin are hormones released in the body that promote physical bonding. The brain releases a high amount of these hormones during the early, romantic stages of a relationship. If these hormones were present in a pill, they could strengthen the sense of togetherness and bonds between couples.

Testosterone
High levels of testosterone increase the amount of sexual desire between the opposite sex. A testosterone-induced pill could aid flagging libidos.

CRH
Although this hormone (corticotropin-releasing hormone) can sometimes cause depression and anxiety, it also creates the fear of separation, which can help deepen the bond between two people.

Entactogens
This drug (found in MDMA pills like ecstasy) creates the feeling of openness and the desire for emotional closeness, claims the paper. This could increase the connection and sociability between people if it was present in a pill.

Would you give it a go?

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  • The Science Of Attraction

  • The Colour Of Love

    Like a red rag to a bull it would seem the colour red also fires up the passion in women. A study at the University of Rochester asked 288 female and 25 male undergraduates to look at photos of a man in which his shirt was digitally coloured either red or another colour. Women in a variety of countries agree that the red shirt made the man appear "more powerful, attractive and sexually desirable."

  • The Scent Of A Man

    
Women can subconsciously sense if a man is attracted to her by the smell of his sweat, according to a study at Rice University in Texas. A group of 19 women in their twenties were exposed to two types of male sweat - one labelled 'normal' and the other 'sexual'. The normal sweat was obtained from the men while they were watching educational videos while the 'sexual' sweat was gathered while they were watching an erotic video. The women's brains were monitored while they were exposed to the sweat. The brain activity showed that they recognised and responded to the sexual sweat.

  • The Perfect Ratio

    Anthropologists in New Zealand carried out studies to find the precise waist to hip ratio that drives men wild. Volunteers were asked to rate the attractiveness of images of women that had their bust, hip and waist sizes digitally altered. The eye movements of the participants were tracked using infra-red cameras. Most men were drawn to the breasts but hips and waists were also important. The most attractive ratio was the waist measuring 70% of the hips. Not surprisingly, Marilyn Monroe, Kate Moss and Jessica Alba all share this ratio.

  • Masculine Men And Feminine Faces

    Men with high levels of testosterone are attracted to women with highly feminine faces, a study at Aberdeen University found. A group of 70 women and 30 men underwent a series of tests to examine the role of testosterone in attraction between the sexes. It was found that attitudes towards the opposite sex changed depending on their fluctuating testosterone levels throughout the day. Researcher Dr Ben Jones, said "When men's testosterone levels were high, they were more attracted to feminine women. When women's testosterone levels were high they were more attracted to masculine men."

  • The Time For Love

    According to a study by Florida State University men are unconsciously attracted to a woman's scent when she is ovulating. Four female volunteers - two who were ovulating and two who were not - were asked to wear a plain white T-shirt for three consecutive nights. Male volunteers were asked to smell the T-shirts. Those who smelled the T-shirts of the ovulating women had testosterone levels 37% higher than those who smelled the T-shirts of the women who were not ovulating.

  • Mirror, Mirror...

    It's a long-held belief that we are naturally attracted to people that resemble ourselves. In an experiment conducted by the University of Illinois, volunteers were shown pictures of of two faces morphed together. One group was shown images of faces of strangers morphed together while the other group was shown faces that were a composite of a stranger's face and up to 45% their own face. The subjects shown images containing their own face found the picture more sexually attractive.

  • Opposites Attract

    Contrary to the theory that we choose partners similar to ourselves and backing up the old adage 'opposites attract', scientists have found an evolutionary reason why we may be attracted to those who are genetically most different to us. A Brazilian study found tthat people are more likely to choose someone with differences in the DNA region that governs the immune system as parents with dissimilar genetic regions could provide their offspring with a better chance to ward infections off because their immune system genes are more diverse.