Psychologists at the University of Texas have discovered that women look and feel more attractive when they are at their most fertile. The women also changed physically. Their waists shrank by about half an inch, giving them a more curvaceous and shapely silhouette, and their breasts were likely to be more symmetrical.
We learned beyond a reasonable doubt that women’s faces and voices change over the menstrual cycle, and that both men and women perceive this as changes in attractiveness.
-Model: Danielle Lickey, Make-Up artist: Tara Arroyo & Photographer: K Rish.
The women, who were asked to keep a record of their feelings, also felt more passionate at this time – about halfway through the cycle and daydreamed about love more often than usual.
They felt less stressed than at other times of the month, had fewer headaches and could detect a more ‘positive mood’ about themselves.
Past studies have also shown men find fertile ladies’ dance moves more attractive, as well as her voice and smell.
Men rated faces and voices as more attractive when women’s progesterone levels were low and estradiol (estrogen) levels were high.
-Model: Tiana Parker, Photographer: K Rish.
“The only time in the cycle when estradiol levels are high and progesterone levels are simultaneously low is the late follicular phase, near ovulation when fertility is highest,” said the study’s lead author David Puts, an assistant professor of anthropology at Pennsylvania State University.
A 2011 study co-authored by Pipitone found that men could predict when women were menstruating based on vocal features, such as its mood, pitch and quality.
Men who could pick up on women’s subtle fertility cues, even if they were unaware of it, may have had more reproductive success. The same could be true for women, researchers theorize: Women who were able to subconsciously spot a fertile rival might have better guarded their mates from them, keeping their partner’s investment focused on them and their children.
There are numerous apps like Glow that can help women determine when they’re ovulating.
Marilyn Monroe is sometimes given as a good example of a high-estrogen woman given both her curvaceousness and physical attractiveness and her proclivity to love them and leave them so far as boyfriends were concerned. She was also competitive with other women and mostly disliked by them. Moreover, she tended to move up the social ladder, dating leading figures right up to the U.S. president. Perhaps ordinary women feel a little bit more like Marilyn Monroe on days of the month when they are fertile.
-Model Ebony Anderberg, Photographer: K Rish
“When we’re in reproductive mode, we look for traits that we associate with good health,” Dr. Gnatuk explains—and that includes healthy testosterone levels, she says, which suggest that a man is well able to produce and protect offspring.
Another 2011 study from the journal Psychological Science suggests women are better at judging men’s sexual orientation when they are ovulating, perhaps since, from an evolutionary perspective, there’s no sense in going after a guy who isn’t interested.
Ovulating women seem to be better able to detect musky odors and male pheromones than those taking oral contraceptives (which prevent ovulation), according to a small 2013 study in the journal Hormones and Behavior; another study that same year found that women may have a heightened sense of smell in general during ovulation than during other times of the month.
You may even be better at detecting potential threats to yourself and your future offspring: A preliminary 2012 study by Kyoto University researchers found that women in the luteal phase of their cycles (which begins with ovulation) were better at finding snakes hidden in photographs of flowers.