Dress to Impress

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A UW-Eau Claire professor and her research partner from UCLA are now in the national spotlight for an unusual study challenging some assumptions about ovulating women.

Their findings show that women who are ovulating tend to pay more attention to their appearance.

The study is getting national attention after being published in the academic journal “Hormones and Behavior” because it’s proving you can’t quite keep your ovulation under wraps.

"We actually may be sending subtle signals, contrary to what we've thought for so long,” UW-Eau Claire Assistant Professor of Psychology April Bleske-Rechek said.

Signals she says men are responding to.

"Women report that their partners are engaging in more mate retention effort when they are fertile.”

Bleske-Rechek does research like this quite often and says what this study shows is that there’s something underneath the surface.

During this study, researchers took about 28 normally cycling women who were not using contraceptives and had partners. They then took a picture of them at both a high and low fertile time. Judges compared the two photos and were asked to pick the one in which they thought the women were trying to look more attractive, without actually seeing the woman’s face.

"The fertile picture was chosen 60% of the time. And by chance would have been 50%,” Bleske-Rechek said.

She says the ovulating women did more to change their appearance, including wearing more fashionable clothing and accessories. And the judges say these things even more as the woman’s cycle progressed.

"The closer to the day of ovulation that that fertile picture was taken, the more frequently it was chosen."

Findings she says prove women may be wearing their fertility on their sleeve, whether they know it or not.