Interesting Behavioral Effects of Ovulation on Women

Changes in ovaryPsychologists have discovered numerous changes in women’s behavior that occur during ovulation.

For those of you who are unaware, a normal menstrual cycle lasts for about 28 days. Ovulation begins in the middle of this cycle, usually about 14 days after menstruation, and lasts until the beginning of the next menstruation.

Effect of Ovulation on the Voice

In 2008, the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behavior published a study which examined changes in voice attractiveness during the menstrual cycle. [1] The study found that both men and women reported the voice of a woman who was ovulating as sounding more attractive than the voice of a woman who was not ovulating. This study did not examine how ovulation influenced a woman’s voice, but it is assumed that the hormones released during ovulation interact with the larynx to produce this change.

Effect of Ovulation on a Woman’s Choice of Clothing

Not all of the effects of ovulation are as subtle as changes in voice. In another study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers found that ovulation influences what women wear. [2] The researchers found that while a woman is ovulating, she is more likely to wear revealing clothes than when she is not ovulating. When asked to sketch what they would wear to a social event, the clothing became even more revealing.

Effect of Ovulation on Facial Recognition

Women are less likely to misidentify a male face with highly masculine features during ovulation than when they are not ovulating, according to a study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, in 2008. [3] When asked to identify a face as either male or female, women made fewer errors identifying male faces which were rated as highly masculine, but only during ovulation. For women who were not ovulating, there was no significant difference in the amount of errors between highly masculine faces and less masculine faces.

Effect of Ovulation on Women’s Mate Preferences

In 2007, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study that investigated the change in women’s sexual preferences during the menstrual cycle. [4] The study found that ovulation has no effect on women’s evaluation of men as long-term partners, but it did have an effect on women’s preferences for short-term partners. Women who were ovulating tended to overvalue physical attractiveness, muscularity, and being socially respected in short-term partners, but did not value these characteristics any more or less in long-term partners. Women who were not ovulating, on the other hand, showed no difference between their preferences for short-term partners and long-term partners.


[1] Pipitone, R.N. & Gallup, G.G. (2008). Women’s voice attractiveness varies across the menstrual cycle. Evolution and Human Behavior, Vol 29: 268-274.

[2] Durante, K.M., Li, N.P. & Haselton, M.G. (2008). Changes in women’s choice of dress across the ovulatory cycle: Naturalistic and laboratory task-based evidence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol 34: 1451-1460.

[3] Johnston, L., Miles, L. & Macrae, C.N. (2008). Was that a man? Sex identification as a function of menstrual cycle and masculinity. Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol 22: 1185-1194.

[4] Cousins, A.J. (2007). Changes in women’s mate preferences across the ovulatory cycle. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 92, No 1: 151-163.