How Your Cycle Influences Your Love Life

Hormone fluctuations affect the way you dress, walk and even which men you choose to flirt with almost daily, say experts. Here, learn how maximize your mating potential throughout your cycle.

By Elise Nersesian

et's face it, ladies: most times, your period is a big, fat pain. Right before it drops you gorge on chocolate, snap at anyone in your path, and are feeling about as sexy as a frog in heat. But despite these unfortunate side effects that often accompany your monthly flow, it also plays a big role in maximizing your appeal to guys. Here's how your mating behavior changes along with your menstrual cycle:

You're kinkier in bed
You probably don't feel sexy when you're rocking a tampon, but it's actually a good time to get busy in
That's even more incentive to dress as attractively as possible.
the bedroom. According to Gabrielle Lichterman, author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love, Life, Moods, and Potential, in the days leading up to and including the first day of menstruation, women experience a small boost in production of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. This means you're more likely to use the right side of your brain (which controls creativity) while making decisions, which is especially useful in the bedroom during this time: try a different position, wear something racy to bed or engage in some sexy role-play with your partner.

You wear skimpier outfits
According to research conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, you're more likely to slip on a flirty sundress than jeans and a T-shirt as you approach ovulation (9-15 days after the first day of your period). From an evolutionary perspective, it's to guarantee survival of the fittest: "During this fertile time, women are subconsciously trying to land a mate, and dressing in an appealing way might be one way to do that," says the study's coauthor, Martie G. Haselton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Psychology at UCLA. "And since women are competing with other females who are also in their fertile period, that's even more incentive to dress as attractively as possible."

You flirt more and might feel tempted to cheat
You love your guy, but as ovulation approaches, you're likely fantasizing about bedding that hottie at the gym instead, according to a study published in the journal, Hormones and Behavior, by Dr. Steven Gangestad of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Martie Haselton of the University of California, Los Angeles. These researchers discovered that, during the days leading up to ovulation, women who don't feel a strong sexual attraction to their current partner may be biologically programmed to feel the urge to cheat. There are a couple of reasons why this happens: first, women approaching their most fertile period are more attractive to men, so they get lots of extra attention — and the more options these women have, the less likely
Chances are that you don't give a hoot how you walk…
they are to settle on just one partner. What's more, during this time, women are subconsciously on the hunt for a genetically ideal match to mate with, so they tend to flirt with men whom they find most sexually attractive.

You become more irresistible to men
Flirting with a new guy? Plan a date with him when you're ovulating. According to research conducted by the University of New Mexico published in the Evolution and Human Behavior journal, men find women to be most attractive when they're in the ovulation phase of their menstrual cycle. The study's researchers asked a group of female exotic dancers to enter their earnings anonymously into a website over the course of two months, noting where they were in their cycle for each shift. After crunching the numbers, researchers learned that ovulating dancers earned about $67 per hour, while those who had just finished ovulating earned approximately $52 per hour and others who were currently menstruating earned around $37 per hour. They then surmised that women give more enthusiastic performances when they're ovulating, thus making them more attractive to the opposite sex. "It's not so much that men know when a woman is ovulating; however, when she's in that peak window of fertility, she may present herself in a more alluring way — how she moves, the way her body and hair smells, the pitch of her voice," says Geoffrey Miller, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico, who coauthored the study.

Your strut seems sexier
Chances are that you don't give a hoot how you walk as long as your legs take you from point A to point B. But scientists have pinpointed which time of the month a woman's walk appears sexiest to men, according to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior journal. Researchers from Queens University in Ontario, Canada dressed female volunteers in suits that had light reflectors placed on the joints and limbs and filmed them walking. They also took saliva samples to assess each woman's level of sex hormones. Then, they asked a group of male participants to rate each woman's walk from most to least attractive. The results were surprising: the women who had the sexiest walks according to the men's votes were also the furthest away from the ovulation portion of their cycle. Researchers surmised that, since women normally get loads of sexual attention during ovulation, they have subconsciously developed a gait that's oozing with sex appeal during the rest of the month to keep men interested.

Elise Nersesian has written for Redbook, Stuff and other national magazines.
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