Once a month, women of reproductive age experience ovulation – the process in which an egg is released from an ovary into the fallopian tubes, which can then be fertilised by sperm. As this brilliant biological process is underway our hormones start to fluctuate and our brain chemistry alters in ways that are thought to improve chances of conception. Recent research reveals ovulation may actually affect your brain, body and behaviours in totally unpredictable ways! Hormones can affect the entire body, not only our reproductive organs, so it’s highly possible that our behaviour and even our appearance can change throughout our menstrual cycles.
According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Consumer Research, as women ovulate they are more likely to unconsciously buy and wear sexier clothing! It seems thanks to evolution a woman’s libido increases when she is at her most fertile, and it often presents itself in subtle, sneaky little ways. Perhaps you have found yourself dreaming more about sex in the first half of the menstrual cycle, as your body is preparing itself for ovulation? One small study found that women may even have more erotic interpretations of abstract artwork when they’re ovulating versus later in their menstrual cycles.
It’s clinically proven that estrogen and testosterone, both of which are higher during ovulation can increase a woman’s desire, and that most women experience a shift in sexual preference during ovulation as an evolutionary holdover for humans. With that preference heightened in between the menstrual cycle that takes your attraction for the shy, sensitive guy to the more masculine, tall, dark and handsome stereotype who all of sudden becomes inexplicably irresistible when you’re ovulating. It’s all in the biology.
The Laws of Attraction.....
Not only is your libido increased during ovulation, but your preference for certain men over others will be more noticeable. When we are in reproductive mode, we unconsciously seek traits that we associate with good health, preferring stereotypically masculine traits such as a square jaw, traits that point to healthy testosterone levels suggesting that a man is able to produce and protect offspring. Another study from the journal Psychological Science (2011) also suggests that women are more perceptive at judging a man’s sexual orientation when they are ovulating, perhaps since from an evolutionary perspective, it is a waste of time investing time in a man who isn’t interested.
When a woman is ovulating, research has found that she is better able to detect musky odours and male pheromones than those taking oral contraceptives (which prevent ovulation), according to the journal Hormones and Behaviour, studies show that women have a heightened sense of smell in general during ovulation than during other times of the month. And that during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (the start of ovulation) women are better able to detect potential threats to themselves and their future offspring, with a 2012 study by the Kyoto University showing that these women were better at finding snakes hidden in photographs of flowers!
Your Face May Get Redder.....
A new study published in the journal PloS One found that a woman’s face becomes slightly more flushed in the days preceding and during ovulation. As a result of hormone fluctuations affecting the blood flow throughout the body, the higher levels of estrogen may cause the blood vessels to dilate and this dilation near the facial skin can give the face a tinted glow. It is though that this slight colour may be noticeable to men and might go some way to solving the mystery of how and why men seem to find women who are ovulating more sexually attractive. However the increase in redness was only detectable via a sensitive camera, not the eye alone, so the jury's still out on this one!
As women we can be prone to bouts of fickleness during ovulation, however these changes we experience are biological functions and behaviours that have evolved over years, and at a basic level designed to ensure that on an unconscious level, we procreate at the optimal time with a partner we have deemed suitable for the job!