Social Sciences Department
BS in Social Sciences
When female primates are the most fertile, they show it by a swelling of the estrus, which is easily visible to other primates. The purpose of this is to demonstrate to male primates when the females are most likely to conceive, and therefore to reveal the best time for copulation. Human females, on the other hand, do not express as obvious of clues as to when they are the most fertile. As of recent, general knowledge has been that female humans have concealed ovulation, but there have been several studies that seem to prove otherwise. My senior project question is: is human ovulation really concealed?
There are many studies showing that when a woman goes through her menstrual cycle each month, several behavioral and physical changes occur in coordination with her fertility level. As a woman becomes more fertile, these changes make her more attractive to males, which increases copulation opportunities and therefore makes pregnancy more likely. Non-concealed ovulation is evolution’s way of ensuring copulation at a time when women are at peak fertility.
Though we are consciously unaware of the changes that women go through when they are near ovulation, there are actually several physical and behavioral signals. A woman’s voice will get higher and more feminine, and her face will become more attractive to males by becoming more symmetrical. Also, a woman’s breasts become more symmetrical and her odor changes, becoming more attractive to males. Along with these biological changes, a woman also begins behaving differently. She will become more flirtatious and more likely to go to social events where there will be single males. She is also more likely to dress in a revealing fashion and to wear more jewelry to call attention to herself. Also, what a woman finds attractive in a mate changes when she is fertile; she is not looking for qualities that would be good in a long-term mate, instead looking for good qualities for a short-term mate. Ovulation also causes women to be more willing to pursue short-term mating strategies like a “one night stand”.
These biological and behavioral changes in women during their peak fertility all have an evolutionary purpose: to become more attractive to males. Though these changes are subtle, and both males and females are largely unaware that they are occurring, subconsciously males notice the difference in ovulating females.