How Birth Control Pills Change Which Men Women Are Attracted To

How Birth Control Pills Change Which Men Women Are Attracted To

Women’s behavior changes in several ways when they reach the most fertile part of their menstrual cycle--that is, when they ovulate. Among other things, research has found that ovulating women fantasize about sex more often and are more likely to wear red or pink clothing. Interestingly, ovulation also appears to change which kinds of men heterosexual women find most sexually attractive, such that they tend to be drawn to “manlier” men during peak fertility.

So what happens when women take birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives that prevent ovulation?

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Does “Gaydar” Really Exist? Here’s What the Science Says

Does “Gaydar” Really Exist? Here’s What the Science Says

The intuitive ability to determine whether or not someone is gay is known colloquially as “gaydar.” When people use their gaydar, they attempt to make inferences about someone else’s sexual interests based upon minimal information, such as the way a person dresses, walks, or talks. Gaydar has been the subject of a fair amount of controversy as of late, with some scientists arguing that it’s real and others claiming that it’s a myth. So what’s the deal—is there something to this or not?

Social psychologist Nicholas Rule pulled together all of the available research on this topic in a new paper published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (this paper is part of a forthcoming special issue devoted to “the puzzle of sexual orientation”—for coverage of other articles in this issue, see here and here). Here are some of the key highlights from Rule’s review of the literature

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Women Instinctively ‘Guard’ Desirable Men From Ovulating Women

Women Instinctively ‘Guard’ Desirable Men From Ovulating Women

Women’s behavior changes in several ways when they’re ovulating. Among other things, research has found that ovulating women fantasize about sex more oftenthey're more likely to wear red or pink clothing, and they’re more likely to flirt with “bad boys.” Together, these findings suggest that ovulation in humans isn't as concealed as previously thought.

Indeed, scientists have found that men seem to be able to identify when women are ovulating. Interestingly, however, a new set of studies suggests that women may also be able to pick up on other women’s ovulation and, furthermore, that there might be an evolutionary reason for this.

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Study: Female Strippers Earn More Tips When They're Ovulating

Study: Female Strippers Earn More Tips When They're Ovulating

Scientists have accumulated a substantial body of research revealing that women's mating preferences and behaviors appear to change in various ways when they are ovulating. For instance, during ovulation, women fantasize about sex more often, they are more likely to wear red or pink clothing, and they are more flirty with "bad boys." The theory uniting all of these effects argues that women have evolved to behave in ways that increase their odds of reproductive success when they are at peak fertility. 

One of the most well-known and frequently cited pieces of evidence supporting this idea is a titillating study (pun intended) of professional female lap dancers in which scientists examined the amount of money these women made in tips during different phases of the menstrual cycle [1].  Eighteen dancers participated in the study and recorded information about their work shifts and earnings over the course of a 60-day online study.

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10 Surprising Facts About Birth Control

10 Surprising Facts About Birth Control

Did you know that Lysol and Coca-Cola used to be used as contraceptives? Or that usage of birth control pills is related not only to what women pay attention to when watching pornography, but also to the amount of money that a female stripper makes in tips? Read on to learn more about these and other surprising facts about the past, present, and future of birth control.

1. In the not-too-distant past, some women used to flush out their vaginas with Coca-Cola after sex in an attempt to prevent pregnancy. Believe it or not, there was even a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985 claiming that this technique actually worked (and not only that, but it also claimed that Diet Coke worked better than regular Coke!) [1]. However, subsequent research found that soda isn’t all that effective as a contraceptive and can potentially lead to vaginal infections [2].

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Can Changing Your Birth Control Routine Affect The Quality Of Your Sex Life?

Can Changing Your Birth Control Routine Affect The Quality Of Your Sex Life?

A growing amount of research suggests that what heterosexual women find attractive in men changes across the menstrual cycle. Specifically, women tend to report greater attraction to masculine-looking and -acting guys when they’re ovulating, supposedly because these traits are signs of better genes and, therefore, a greater chance of fathering babies who will survive. Because these ovulatory shifts in mating preferences are wiped out when women take hormonal contraceptives, scientists have begun to wonder what implications this might have for women’s sex lives and relationships. In particular, what happens if a woman starts a relationship with a guy she met while she was on the pill and later decides to go off the pill? Are the subsequent hormonal changes she experiences linked to any changes in her relationship? According to a new study published in Psychological Science, the answer appears to be yes.

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Do Women’s Genital Arousal Patterns Change When They’re Ovulating?

Do Women’s Genital Arousal Patterns Change When They’re Ovulating?

Several studies have found that when heterosexual women view different types of pornography, they tend to show a nonspecific genital arousal pattern with respect to the gender of the performers [1]. In other words, heterosexual women typically register high levels of genital arousal in response to both gay male porn and lesbian porn. In contrast, men tend to show more specificity in their genital responses, with heterosexual men only showing strong genital arousal when watching porn that features women, and gay men only showing strong genital arousal when watching porn that features men.

It is not clear why heterosexual women typically show this gender-nonspecific arousal pattern; however, one possibility that researchers did not consider until just now is that perhaps women’s genital response patterns are not constant and, instead, fluctuate across the menstrual cycle for evolutionary reasons. For instance, it could be that when the odds of conception are low, women have a nonspecific arousal pattern, perhaps to allow more flexibility in finding a partner who can help with child-rearing in the event that the father of her children is no longer alive or contributing resources. In contrast, when the odds of conception are high (i.e., during ovulation), perhaps women’s genital arousal patterns shift toward men in order to increase their odds of reproductive success.

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Heterosexual Women Are More “Flirty” When They’re Ovulating, But Only With Bad Boys

Heterosexual Women Are More “Flirty” When They’re Ovulating, But Only With Bad Boys

Research has found that heterosexual men seem to be able to detect when women are ovulating and this, in turn, appears to have implications for guys’ behavior. For instance, one study found that male visitors to a gentlemen’s club gave the biggest tips to female lap dancers when those dancers were ovulating [1]. Why is that? One possibility is that ovulating women are releasing pheromones that unconsciously change the way that men act around them. But another possibility is that ovulation changes women’s behavior, which ultimately leads men to treat them differently. A new study published in Psychological Science provides some support for the latter explanation by suggesting that women are "flirtier" when they're ovulating--but only with certain types of guys.

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Women Have More Sexual Fantasies When They’re Ovulating

Women Have More Sexual Fantasies When They’re Ovulating

Several studies have revealed changes in women’s sexual attitudes and behaviors during ovulation. For example, research suggests that ovulating women opt for sexier and more revealing clothing [1] and move their bodies in ways that are deemed more attractive by men [2]. Such findings could help to explain why female exotic dancers tend to earn bigger tips during this phase of the menstrual cycle! Other research has found that ovulation changes the characteristics heterosexual women find attractive in men. Building upon all of these results, a new study suggests that ovulation also changes how often women think about sex, as well as the content of their sexual fantasies [3].

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Women’s Feelings About Male Body Hair Appear To Change During Ovulation

Women’s Feelings About Male Body Hair Appear To Change During Ovulation

There is a growing body of evidence that what heterosexual women find attractive in men varies across the menstrual cycle. Specifically, when women are at their most fertile (i.e., when they are ovulating), they tend to be attracted to “manlier” men. That is, ovulating women show an exaggerated preference for guys with masculine-looking faces and bodies, deeper voices, and so forth. The prevailing theory is that women are evolutionarily wired to look for partners who have the best genes for making babies. Because masculine physical features are supposedly a sign of a healthy immune system, it is thought that women have developed a preference for manly men when they are at peak fertility with the hope that these superior genes will be passed along to their children. Based upon this reasoning, one might presume that women’s preferences for male body hair would also fluctuate across the menstrual cycle because body hair is typically considered a sign of masculinity. A recent study suggests that women’s body hair preferences do indeed vary according to fertility status, but not in the way that you might expect.

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Women Reach For Red And Pink Clothes During Ovulation

Women Reach For Red And Pink Clothes During Ovulation

Research has found that women attempt to enhance their attractiveness when they are ovulating, a finding that many scientists have argued is an evolved mechanism designed to increase their odds of conception. For example, not only do ovulating women choose to wear more fashionable outfits than women at other stages of the menstrual cycle [1], but ovulating women also experience changes in the pitch of their voice and their body movements that make them more desirable to men [2,3]. A new study published in Psychological Science adds to this growing body of research by suggesting that ovulating women may also choose to adorn themselves with sexier colors as another potential means of enhancing their attractiveness [4].

 

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Sex Question Friday: Can Intercourse Position And Timing Affect The Sex Of Your Child?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week, we’re talking about whether you can pick the sex of your baby by having sex in certain positions or by timing how closely you have sex to when a woman ovulates. It appears that a lot of people are interested in learning about this topic because questions of this nature have come up with surprising frequency among students in my classes!

Can different sexual positions determine the sex of a child?

Can timing intercourse in relation to ovulation affect whether you have a boy or girl?

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Ovulating Women Fantasize About Sex More Often

There is a growing body of research indicating that women’s sexuality changes as they near ovulation. For example, ovulating women tend to dress in sexier clothes and reveal more skin [1], which may help to explain why female exotic dancers earn bigger tips during the fertile phase of their menstrual cycle! A new study suggests that ovulation may also change how often women think about sex and the content of their sexual fantasies [2].
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