« Ring Vase — 'Nobody sees a flower, really...' | Home | Remote-Control Sports Car Racer Ballpoint Pen »

October 19, 2006

BehindTheMedspeak: Dressing for... ovulation?


Long story short: a study out of the UCLA department of psychology (believe anything UCLA-related — Go Bruins!) reports that women dress better when hitting the peak of their fertility during the menstrual cycle.

Since people don't have feathers to fluff, I guess we do the next best thing and don a nicer outfit.

Here's the abstract of the paper, published last week in the journal Hormones and Behavior.

    Ovulatory shifts in human female ornamentation: Near ovulation, women dress to impress

    Humans differ from many other primates in the apparent absence of obvious advertisements of fertility within the ovulatory cycle. However, recent studies demonstrate increases in women's sexual motivation near ovulation, raising the question of whether human ovulation could be marked by observable changes in overt behavior. Using a sample of 30 partnered women photographed at high and low fertility cycle phases, we show that readily-observable behaviors — self-grooming and ornamentation through attractive choice of dress — increase during the fertile phase of the ovulatory cycle. At above-chance levels, 42 judges selected photographs of women in their fertile (59.5%) rather than luteal phase (40.5%) as “trying to look more attractive.” Moreover, the closer women were to ovulation when photographed in the fertile window, the more frequently their fertile photograph was chosen. Although an emerging literature indicates a variety of changes in women across the cycle, the ornamentation effect is striking in both its magnitude and its status as an overt behavioral difference that can be easily observed by others. It may help explain the previously documented finding that men's mate retention efforts increase as their partners approach ovulation.


The lead author of the study, Professor Martie Haselton, provides more information about the details and limitations of the study, as well as its implications, here.

Other recent media coverage here.

October 19, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference BehindTheMedspeak: Dressing for... ovulation?:


Well, all I can say is this: after the O-day, weight flucutations build between 7- 10 lbs. So, deploy the fat clothes or elastic waist (hidden, natch) pants and skirts. One about Day 4 or so of the menstrusl cycle, the tides recent and then, break out the slim, perky, cuty, clothes.

So there. Take that, oh data monger. Anedcotes rule.

Posted by: Mb | Oct 19, 2006 9:24:48 PM

I guess I didn't read this closely enough, but it's odd to me that the judges chosen to decide on the attractiveness of dress were half female. (That is, half of the people were females. Not some half-betesticled, half-ovaried hybrid types. To be clear.) I mean, wouldn't the opinion of other women about a woman's attractiveness at that time in the cycle be kind of irrelevant? I guess it's about mate competition and all that. Never mind.

Posted by: Flautist | Oct 19, 2006 2:48:02 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.