This Is How Hormonal Cycles Affect How Women Look At Men

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant

Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Couple Looking at Each Other

Image by Aleksandra Jankovic / Stocksy

There's been plenty of debate on whether women's cycles affect their preferences when it comes to men and dating.

One hypothesis, the good genes ovulatory shift hypothesis (GGOSH), suggests varying levels of fertility throughout a woman's cycle affect how they perceive male behavior.

But a new study says that may not exactly be the case. According to the research team at the University of Göttingen, a woman's cycle does not affect her preferences for men's behavior. It does, however, influence general levels of attraction. Here's what they found.

Mapping attraction mid-cycle.

To test GGOSH, the researchers studied 157 female participants (the largest sample size to date on the topic). All the participants were 18 to 35, straight, and had regular and natural periods.

In four separate tests, the women watched videos of a man getting to know a woman. The women were asked to focus on the man's behavior and then rate him on attractiveness for both a noncommitted, short-term relationship and a long-term one.

Afterward, using saliva samples and urine tests to map hormone levels and fertility, the researchers found nothing to support the idea that women's preferences in male behavior change throughout their cycle. For example, the women rated competitive or flirtatious behavior as attractive in the short term—but less attractive for long-term relationships—regardless of whether they were fertile.

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Not a matter of preference but attraction.

So, at the very least, women can say their preferences in men's behavior will not be influenced by their time of the month. However, there was another interesting finding that came out of the research.

When most fertile (the point midway between periods), women actually evaluated every man as a little more attractive in general, compared to other times during the cycle.

Julia Stern, Ph.D., first author of the study says, "The finding that ratings of attractiveness increase in the fertile phase, independently of men's behavior, is new—and indicates that women's mating motivation is likely to be higher in the fertile phase."

Makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, but just as well, it could be something to keep in mind the next time you find yourself flirting mid-cycle.

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