Feeling frisky, rosy cheeks, even your dance moves can clue others in to your ovulation cycle
Hormones can be sneaky. 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 type of men you find attractive, says Belisa Vranich, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and Shape's resident psychology expert. "But the most important clue is feeling aroused or frisky," she says. "Chances are the days you are most horny are your most fertile ones." (Not sure when ovulation happens? We have Your Menstrual Cycle Phases—Explained.)
But if your sudden desire to watch Ryan Gosling movies isn't enough of a tip-off, here are six more ways that you (and others) can tell when you're fertile.
No need to be embarrassed if you blush easily. In fact, a new study from the University of Glasgow found that women's skin is pinker and we blush more when we'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).
Speaking to a man when you're at your most fertile can make his skin tingle—literally. 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 effect 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."
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, like shorts skirts and low-cut tops, when they're ovulating.
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 reearch shows that it can be just as important in women.
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. But the onslaught of hormones during puberty shapes our faces in distinctly feminine or masculine ways, and continues through our 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 women 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. (Get fuller features anytime by learning how to Plump It Up! The Best Beauty Products for Full Lips, Eyelashes, and Skin.)
If you're sexy and you know it then your dance moves will surely show it, according 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.
It's not just weddings and high school reunions that spur diets! According to a new study published by the National Science Foundation, women are more motivated to lose weight around the time we're ovulating. The researchers speculate it's from an increased desire to look our best to attract a mate. Ladies who weren't at their fertile time or who were on the birth control showed no such monthly calorie fluctuations. One question: Would it be wrong to ask a friend to schedule her wedding around when we're ovulating?