Is Human Ovulation Concealed? Evidence from Conception Beliefs in a Hunter-Gatherer Society
- Frank W. Marlowe
- … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Several researchers have suggested that ovulation may not be concealed in humans living under natural conditions with minimal hygiene. Because measuring coital frequency in such a population is problematic, I tested this proposition indirectly by asking Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania when a woman can get pregnant. If people (1) know that pregnancy is caused by sex, and people (2) say that women conceive in the middle of the menstrual cycle, we might infer that people think women conceive in the middle of the cycle because most copulations occur then. If copulation peaks strongly around ovulation, it is not concealed. The Hadza know that pregnancy is caused by sex but most say conception occurs right after menstruation ends. Hadza conception beliefs therefore do not suggest that ovulation is more detectable in humans under more natural conditions.
- Bancroft, J. (1989). Human sexuality and its problems. Edinburgh, UK: Churchill Livingstone.
- Blurton Jones, N. G., O'Connell, J. F., Hawkes, K., Kamuzora, C. L., & Smith, L. C. (1992). Demography of the Hadza, an increasing and high density population of savanna foragers. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 89, 159–181.
- Burley, N. (1979). The evolution of concealed ovulation. American Naturalist, 114, 835–858.
- Dixson, A. F. (1998). Primate sexuality: Comparative studies of the prosimians, monkeys, apes, and human beings. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
- Ford, C. S., & Beach, F. A. (1951). Patterns of sexual behavior. New York: Harper and Row.
- Gray, J. P., & Wolfe, L. D. (1983). Human female sexual cycles and the concealment of ovulation problem. Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 6, 345–352.
- Hedricks, C. A. (1994). Sexual behavior across the menstrual cycle: A biopsychological approach. Annual Review of Sex Research, 5, 122–172.
- Hrdy, S. B., & Whitten, P. L. (1987). Patterning of sexual activity. In B. Smuts, D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, R. W. Wrangham, & T. T. Struhsaker (Eds.), Primate societies (pp. 370–384). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- James, W. H. (1971). Distribution of coitus within human intermen-struum. Journal of Biosocial Science, 3, 159–171.
- Manning, J. T., Scutt, D., Whitehouse, G. H., Leinster, S. J., & Walton, J. M. (1996). Asymmetry and the menstrual cycle in women. Ethology and Sociobiology, 17, 129–143.
- Manson, W. C. (1986). Sexual cyclicity and concealed ovulation. Journal of Human Evolution, 15, 21–30.
- Marlowe, F. W. (1999a). Male care and mating effort among Hadza foragers. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 46, 57–64.
- Marlowe, F. W. (1999b). Showoffs or providers? The parenting effort of Hadza men. Evolution and Human Behavior, 20, 391–404.
- Marlowe, F. W. (2003). A critical period for provisioning by Hadza men: Implications for pair bonding. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 217–229.
- Marlowe, F. W. (2004). Mate preferences among Hadza hunter-gatherers. Human Nature 15(4).
- Morris, N. M., & Udry, J. R. (1982). Epidemiological patterns of sexual behavior in the menstrual cycle. In R. C. Friedman (Ed.), Behavior and the menstrual cycle (pp. 129–154). New York: Marcel Dekker.
- Paige, K. E., & Paige, J. M. (1981). The politics of reproductive ritual. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Pawlowski, B. (1999). Loss of oestrus and concealed ovulation in human evolution: The case against the sexual selection hypothesis. Current Anthropology, 40, 257–275.
- Singh, D., & Bronstad, P. M. (2001). Female body odor is a potential cue to ovulation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 268, 797–801.
- Small, M. F. (1996). “Revealed” ovulation in humans? Journal of Human Evolution, 30, 483–488.
- Steklis, H. D., & Whiteman, C. H. (1988). Loss of estrus in human evolution: Too many answers, too few questions. Ethology and Sociobiology, 10, 417–434.
- Stern, K., & McClintock, M. (1998). Regulation of ovulation by human pheromones. Nature, 392, 177–179.
- Strassman, B. I. (1996). Menstrual hut visits by Dogon women: A hor-monal test distinguishes deceit from honest signaling. Behavioral Ecology, 7, 304–315.
- Strassman, B. I. (1999). Comments: Loss of oestrus and concealed ovulation in human evolution. Current Anthropology, 40, 268.
- Wood, J. W. (1994). Dynamics of human reproduction: Biology, biometry, demography. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
- Is Human Ovulation Concealed? Evidence from Conception Beliefs in a Hunter-Gatherer Society
Archives of Sexual Behavior
Volume 33, Issue 5 , pp 427-432
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
- Additional Links
- concealed ovulation
- conception beliefs
- Industry Sectors
- Frank W. Marlowe (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138