It’s true – you do smell different when you’re ovulating and when you’re not. It might not be strictly obvious, but it’s definitely not going to be covered up by deodorant.
So what does this mean for your sex life? Sit tight while things get primitive.
Now, science already knew that straight men can tell roughly where women are in their cycles by smelling their sweat. They get more turned on, unconsciously, by women who at their most fertile, and rank the smell of ovulating females as ‘sweeter’, oddly enough.
So far, so animal – but now the interesting bit kicks in.
This new study, by researchers at Florida State University, shows something intriguing: women can also sniff out when other women are ovulating. When participating ladies smelt two separate T-shirts, one worn during low fertility and the other in a high period, they showed a spike in reaction to the high one.
Why? Well, for men looking for a partner, this super-scenting ability is a good way to find a person who’s liable to get pregnant right away. For women, it might actually be a way of sniffing out bedroom rivals, ladies who might be able to successfully tempt their partner. Not with their lipstick or great taste in music, mind you – with their cycle-dependent sweat.
Even more intriguingly, though, the way in which women reacted to the fertile sweat was just the same as men: they produced a spike of testosterone.
Testosterone is known as the ‘male hormone’, but all of us have them in greater and lesser quantities. The scientists think that it rises in both sexes when they get the ‘fertile’ scent from female sweat because they think they’re going to have to compete – the man to win the lady, the lady to fight off her rivals.
Aggression is closely tied to testosterone, so this conclusion isn’t greatly surprising. Even if the woman in question has never shown the vaguest bit of interest, it’s still theoretically possible to regard them as a threat just because they happen to be, well, being fertile in the vicinity of your partner.
It would be interesting to see how this works with same-sex partners, particularly women, but no research has gone into it as yet.
So what can we take away from this? Feeling a sudden surge of possessiveness of your dude around a woman might not be ‘intuition’ or some other vague unconscious hunch that they’re untrustworthy. It might just be primitive biology warning you that they’re fertile and ready.
And, if other women keep regarding you as threatening even though you’re sure you’re being as proper as possible, you could always eat a lot of smelly foods (garlic’s a favourite), smoke and use loads of smelly body products in order to mask your animal allure. Though frankly that will just make everybody think you’re slightly antisocial….
Lady Friday xx
Taking the pillow talk out of the bedroom, every Friday..
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