12 Behavioral Effects of Ovulation on Women [Dating & Love]

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Ovulation, a process in the 28-day menstrual cycle, represents a window of approximately 12 to 24 hours when a mature ovum, or egg, is released from the ovary. Following its release, the ovum travels through the fallopian tube, remaining receptive to fertilization for roughly the same duration. [1]

During the days surrounding ovulation, hormonal activity increases significantly. A surge in estradiol and luteinizing hormone levels has been observed, and this spike correlates with an increase in sexual desire. [2, 3]

Behavioral Effects of Ovulation on Women Dating and love thumbnail

An intriguing phenomenon linked to ovulation is the 'Ovulatory Shift Hypothesis.' [4]

The Ovulatory Shift Hypothesis suggests a cyclical alteration in a woman's mate preference, correlating to her ovulatory status and reflecting her dual mating strategy:

  1. 1
    Infertile Phases (Menstruation, Follicular, and Luteal Phases): In these stages, women tend to favor long-term partners who demonstrate potential for substantial resource provision, increasing the probability of substantial parental investment and child support.
  2. 2
    Fertile Phase (Ovulation): During ovulation, there is a transient shift in preferences towards short-term partners with high genetic quality, thereby enhancing the likelihood of producing healthy, aesthetically pleasing offspring.

Moreover, multiple behavioral modifications, consistent with the Ovulatory Shift Hypothesis, have been documented in scientific literature:

  1. 1
    Women can pick up on subtle fertility cues and guard their attractive partners by avoiding other ovulating women and upping their own sexual desire for their partners. [5]
  2. 2
    Women tend to dress more revealingly and accessorize when they're near ovulation. [6]
  3. 3
    Women demonstrate heightened self-grooming behavior during ovulation. [6]
  4. 4
    When their partner's genetic fitness is inferior to their resource potential, women may display increased flirtation towards genetically fit males during ovulation. [7]
  5. 5
    Concurrently, a rise in flirtatious behavior targeted at genetically fit males for potential short-term partnerships is observed during ovulation. [8]
  6. 6
    In the fertile phase, with elevated estrogen levels, women demonstrate a preference for masculine and dissimilar faces for short-term relationships. This preference shifts towards less masculine and similar faces in the luteal phase, characterized by higher progesterone levels (both short and long-term relationships). [9]
  7. 7
    During the fertile phase, women show increased attraction towards the scent of symmetrically faced and masculine males. [10]
  8. 8
    Preference for dominant, assertive males (indicating high genetic quality) is prevalent during the fertile phase, transitioning to a preference for emotionally sensitive, kind males (indicating high resource potential) during non-fertile phases. [10]
  9. 9
    Lower-pitched male voices are favored by women during their fertile phase. [11]
  10. 10
    Economic implications have also been studied, with professional lap dancers reported to earn 81% more during their fertile phase: 335 dollars per shift (5 hours in total) during estrus (i.e. when fertile), 260 dollars per shift during the luteal phase, and 185 dollars per shift during menstruation. [11]
  11. 11
    Intriguingly, peak fertility is associated with a three-fold increase in the probability of women choosing to wear red or pink. [12]
  12. 12
    Women display an increased preference for masculine male bodies during their peak fertility, primarily for short-term partnerships and most strongly in those not using hormonal contraceptives. [13]

Thank you for reading!

Share this article, comment below with any questions you may have and be sure to check out my post about female attraction to male muscularity!

Coach Colt


[1] Ovulation and fertility: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/ovulation

[2] Cappelletti M, Wallen K. Increasing women's sexual desire: The comparative effectiveness of estrogens and androgens. Horm Behav. 2016 Feb;78:178-93. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 14. PMID: 26589379; PMCID: PMC4720522.

[3] Cappelletti M, Wallen K. Increasing women's sexual desire: The comparative effectiveness of estrogens and androgens. Horm Behav. 2016 Feb;78:178-93. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 14. PMID: 26589379; PMCID: PMC4720522.

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovulatory_shift_hypothesis

[5] Krems, J. A., Neel, R., Neuberg, S. L., Puts, D. A., & Kenrick, D. T. (2016). Women selectively guard their (desirable) mates from ovulating women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 110(4), 551–573.

[6] Durante KM, Li NP, Haselton MG. Changes in women's choice of dress across the ovulatory cycle: naturalistic and laboratory task-based evidence. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Nov;34(11):1451-60. doi: 10.1177/0146167208323103. Epub 2008 Aug 21. PMID: 18719219.

[7] Haselton MG, Gangestad SW. Conditional expression of women's desires and men's mate guarding across the ovulatory cycle. Horm Behav. 2006 Apr;49(4):509-18. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.10.006. Epub 2006 Jan 3. PMID: 16403409.

[8] Cantú, Stephanie & Simpson, Jeffry & Griskevicius, Vladas & Weisberg, Yanna & Durante, Kristina & Beal, Daniel. (2014). Fertile and Selectively Flirty: Women's Behavior Toward Men Changes Across the Ovulatory Cycle. Psychological science. 25. 10.1177/0956797613508413.

[9] Jones, Ben & DeBruine, Lisa & Perrett, David & Little, Anthony & Feinberg, David & Law Smith, Miriam. (2008). Effects of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Face Preferences. Archives of sexual behavior. 37. 78-84. 10.1007/s10508-007-9268-y.

[10] Gangestad, S. W., Simpson, J. A., Cousins, A. J., Garver-Apgar, C. E., & Christensen, P. N. (2004). Women’s Preferences for Male Behavioral Displays Change Across the Menstrual Cycle. Psychological Science, 15(3), 203–207. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.01503010.x

[11] Geoffrey Miller, Joshua M. Tybur, Brent D. Jordan, Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus? Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 28, Issue 6, 2007, Pages 375-381, ISSN 1090-5138, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2007.06.002.

[12] Beall, A. T., & Tracy, J. L. (2013). Women Are More Likely to Wear Red or Pink at Peak Fertility. Psychological Science, 24(9), 1837–1841. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613476045

[13] Anthony C. Little, Benedict C. Jones, Robert P. Burriss, Preferences for masculinity in male bodies change across the menstrual cycle, Hormones and Behavior, Volume 51, Issue 5, 2007, Pages 633-639, ISSN 0018-506X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2007.03.006.

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    About the author 

    Coach Colt here, the founder of Dating Armory, your go-to source for no-nonsense, practical relationship advice. I'm a bisexual male in a same-sex open relationship and a researcher in sex, love, and relationships with 7+ years of experience. I specialize in helping both men and women navigate the crazy world of dating.

    Don't miss my other guides packed with practical dating advice (no bullshit repeated Platitudes) and tons of real life examples:

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