By: Maayan S. Heller for Uterus1
There are lots of them – women who like an occasion to dress-to-impress. But how many truly know why they do it?
New research suggests that beyond the innate desire so many have to simply look good, the answer might actually lie in hormones. According to a study completed by researchers at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the more fertile a woman is, the more attention she will pay to the way she dresses.
|How do human females compare to some of our animal counterparts? Maybe we women dress to the nines around ovulation because of the inherent animal need to attract the opposite sex. What do some other females do?|
Porcupines: Female porcupines are only receptive for a few hours a year. As summer approaches, young females become nervous and very excited. Then they stop eating and, moping, stick close by the males. At the same time, the males become aggressive with each other, and begin a period of carefully sniffing every place the female of his choice urinates. This is a tremendous aphrodisiac.
Hippopotami: Female hippos attract mates by marking territory, urinating and defecating at the same time. An enamored female will twirl her tail like a propeller, spreading the mess to attract a male.
Beavers: When a female beaver has found a suitable mate, she signals her intentions by secreting a yellowish oily substance called castoreum.
Not only do fertile women focus on their appearance more closely, but “they tend to put on skirts instead of pants, show more skin and generally dress more fashionably,” Martie Haselton, the study’s lead author and a UCLA associate professor of communication studies and psychology, said.
According to Haselton and her colleagues, the findings of their study show that human ovulation may not be as difficult to detect as is commonly believed.
“Biologically, it is in the best interest of every species to reproduce, which would explain all sorts of things that researchers have found – smells most attractive to men and women that increase their chance of finding a partner, etc.,” says Maura Quinlan, M.D., an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago, who was not involved in the study.
Like female birds or other animals that change color or release strong scents when seeking a mate, human females apparently spruce themselves up similarly around the 15th day of their menstrual cycles, when most women ovulate.
“I think [the study] raises a good point,” adds Dr. Quinlan, “that although we would like to think that we are very heady creatures, we are not so different from many other animal species, with the same innate interest in reproduction.”
Haselton’s team studied 30 young college women who were asked to come to their lab for a test, but who were not told further details of the research. The women were photographed twice during a month-long period in which they returned to the lab, once on a high fertility day and once on a low fertility day.
The photographs, with the women’s faces blacked out, were shown to a group of 42 men and women of varying ages. The judges were asked to assess in which of the two photographs of each individual the woman was trying to look more attractive.
The results were not due to random chance, according to the researchers. Sixty percent of the time, the high fertility photograph was chosen. Furthermore, the more fertile they were, the more likely their photographs were chosen. The high-fertility photographs of those who were actually ovulating on the day of their picture were selected 80 percent of the time.
Haselton and her colleagues had previously reported that women were more likely to look at attractive men, to flirt, and to judge other women’s appearances more harshly during ovulation.
While Dr. Quinlan says most studies on this subject are “difficult to validate and very subjective,” she does agree that the findings of this study aren’t all that surprising when you consider our animal-nature.
“The hormone changes within each cycle are huge,” says Dr. Quinlan. “It makes sense that, since we are primates, behavior changes would occur to increase the chance of reproducing.”
Maybe those baggy sweats only come out at night, then.
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