Ovulation Changes Women's Behavior

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THE GIST

- Ovulation changes the way a woman acts, and affects the kinds of men she's attracted to.

- Going on or off the birth control pill can influence the types of men a woman will pursue.

- The research could affect dating behavior, marketing strategies and more.

When a woman is ovulating, her behavior changes in a startling number of ways from the way she walks, talks and dresses to the men she flirts with, according to new research.

The findings might offer some practical tips for women to boost their online dating prospects; for scientists to develop new kinds of ovulation detection kits; or for marketers to target sales of clothes and jewelry. The work also suggests that going on or off the birth control pill might influence a woman's choice in men.

Why does ovulation change women's behavior in such subtle yet fundamental ways? Experts propose that it's an innate and subtle strategy to both attract the most desirable guys and convince them to stick around for the long haul.

"The idea is that women turn up everything that has to do with femininity" at ovulation, said Greg Bryant, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. "This is showing that there are all sorts of phenomena that happen in our behavior that we're not actually aware of."

For a long time, scientists assumed that the hormonal shifts of ovulation happened without measurable changes in how women behaved. That's because women have a strong motivation to hide the fact that they're fertile, unlike other members of the animal kingdom. While a female baboon's swollen red rump encourages males to mate and go, for example, a female human's ability to keep a man guessing should up the chances of him mating and then staying to help take care of their children.

Starting in the 1990s, studies began to show that in the days before ovulation women start to become more attracted to men who have deeper voices and more chiseled, masculine and symmetrical faces. According to some studies, that may be because men who look like George Clooney are more likely to have dominant social roles, better genes and stronger immune systems.

Women who are in relationships exhibit the most extreme spike in interest for masculine men around ovulation. The shift is even more exaggerated when they're not happy with their current partners, said Kristina Durante, a social psychologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Women are also more likely to cheat on their partners while ovulating.

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