Rosy cheeks, your outfit choices, and feeling horny during ovulation can all clue you (and others) into your fertile time of the month.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Updated September 15, 2020
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It's pretty obvious when you have your period (you know, thanks to the cramps and blood and everything). But another important part of your menstrual cycle — ovulation, which happens around day 14 of your cycle, and marks your most fertile time of the month — happens more on the DL.

That said, even if you don't know when you're ovulating, your body sure does — and it has ways of making your fertility status known to everyone around you. The fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, the two main sex hormones in women, affect everything from the way you walk to the clothes you wear to the people you find attractive, says Belisa Vranich, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and Shape's resident psychology expert. Here are seven ways you (and others) can tell when you're fertile and ovulating.

You're Horny

This connection is pretty simple. You're likely to be horny during ovulation since that's when you're most likely to get pregnant. "The most important clue is feeling aroused or frisky," says Vranich. "Chances are, the days you are most horny are your most fertile ones." During ovulation, your testosterone levels are at their highest, and testosterone is a key hormone responsible for sex drive. Being horny during ovulation is essentially your body's way of saying, "yep, now's the time to procreate." (Related: What Ob-Gyns Want Women to Know About Their Fertility)

You're Blushing

No need to be embarrassed if you blush easily. In fact, a study from the University of Glasgow found that women's skin is pinker and blushes more when they're fertile. According to Benedict Jones, Ph.D., lead author of the paper, you can thank increasing levels of the hormone estradiol for that rosy glow. The hormone peaks at ovulation, sending the blood rushing to the thin skin of your face — and making your cheeks a Bat Signal of health and fertility. This effect may also be one reason that wearing blush is so popular. (Try these 11 Blush Products for a Pretty, Natural Flush)

Your Voice Is Extra Sultry

Not only is it likely that you're horny during ovulation, but speaking to a potential partner when you're at your most fertile can make their skin tingle — literally — too. A recent study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior found that a woman's voice changes over the course of her cycle, taking on a special timbre when she's ovulating. In the study, when men heard fertile women speaking, electrical activity in their skin increased by 20 percent. Melanie Shoup-Knox, Ph.D., a psychologist at James Madison University and lead researcher, explained that hormones affect the soft tissue of the larynx, throat, and vocal cords just as they do the cervix. "These tissues have receptors for estrogens and progestins," Shoup-Knox told the Huffington Post. "Variations in the amounts of these hormones can produce variations in the amount of blood flow, swelling, and water retention in the vocal chords, which can result in changes in vocal fluidity and hoarseness."

You're the Lady in Red

Red and pink may be the colors of love for a reason, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science — and it has nothing to do with candy hearts. Researchers found that women were more likely to choose clothing in shades of red when they were ovulating, theorizing that they subconsciously chose the bright hues to bring attention to themselves when they were feeling sexiest. Vranich adds that women also choose more attention-seeking clothing, in general, when they're ovulating. (Related: The Psychology Behind Your Lipstick Color)

Your Firm Handshake

If anyone's ever greeted your handshake with a joking "Hey there, Crusher!" they may be complimenting more than your professional grip. A study done by Adams State University in Colorado found that women who had high hand-grip strength also had more children. Being strong is an outward signal of health and may be used as subtle indicator of good fertility, the researchers concluded in their paper. They pointed out that strength is often used as a way to identify good mating potential in men, but this research shows that it can be just as important in women. (Related: Why It's Important to Have Grip Strength)

Your Face

All babies start out looking pretty similar, and if it weren't for hair bows and truck onesies, most of us wouldn't be able to tell the girls from the boys just from looking at their faces. (Related: What It Means to Be Non-Binary) But the onslaught of hormones during puberty shapes your face in distinctly feminine or masculine way, and continues through your fertile years, according to a study out of England.

"Women are effectively advertising their general fertility with their faces," said Miriam Law Smith, Ph.D., the lead researcher, adding that fertile females display fuller lips, plumper cheeks, brighter eyes, and smoother skin-all courtesy of the extra estrogen that comes with ovulation. Indeed, the men in the study found women who were ovulating to be more attractive overall even if they couldn't specify a particular feature that stood out to them. Another interesting finding from the study: Volunteers could no longer tell the difference between women in their fertile phase and everyone else when the women were wearing makeup, suggesting that a little lipstick and mascara effectively mimics those biological cues. (Also see: How to Perfect the No-Makeup Look)

Your Dance Moves

If you're sexy and you know it then your dance moves might actually show it, according to a landmark study published in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior that found that strippers made 80 percent more tips when they were ovulating. (And they made 50 percent less when they were menstruating.) Patrons had no way of knowing at what point the dancers were in their cycles but the researchers found that ovulating women were more likely to choose more provocative outfits, dance in a sexier manner, and even walk differently. And it's not just true for exotic dancers. "I've found women wear shorter skirts, are more open to one-liners, and are more tolerant of high testosterone men when they are fertile," explains Vranich. (So, might be the ideal time to learn the WAP choreo or try a YouTube dance workout.)

You're Feeling Motivated to Lose Weight

Due to fluctuating hormone levels, you might have more energy for workouts during the middle part of your cycle — and you might feel more focused on weight loss goals as well. According to a study published by the National Science Foundation, women are more motivated to lose weight around the time they're ovulating. The researchers speculate it's from an increased desire to look your best to attract a mate. Women who weren't at their fertile time or who were on the birth control pill showed no such monthly calorie fluctuations. (Related: Can You Love Your Body and Still Want to Change It?)

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