Sexual Fantasies and Viewing Times Across the Menstrual Cycle: A Diary Study

Abstract

Recent research has revealed that many aspects of female sexuality change across the menstrual cycle. In this study, we examined changes in sexual fantasies and visual sexual interests across the menstrual cycle. A total of 27 single, heterosexual women (M age = 21.5 years) not using hormonal contraceptives answered questions on a web-based diary every day for 30 days about their sexual fantasies and behaviors. Twenty-two of them also completed a viewing time task during three different menstrual cycle phases (follicular, ovulation, and luteal) to assess changes in visual sexual interest. Ovulation status was determined by a self-administered urine test. Results showed that the frequency and arousability of sexual fantasies increased significantly at ovulation. The number of males in the fantasies increased during the most fertile period, with no such change for the number of females. Fantasy content became more female-like during ovulation, focusing more on emotions rather than explicit sexual content. Women displayed a category non-specific pattern of viewing time with regard to target age and gender, regardless of fertility status. Results were discussed in the context of the ovulatory shift hypothesis of female sexuality.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Dean of Arts and Science, University of Lethbridge, for financial support, and Megan Ebsworth, Grant Harris, and Michael Seto for their useful comments. A version of this article was presented at the University of Lethbridge Workshop, The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation: What Is It and How Does It Work? Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, June 2010.

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Correspondence to Martin L. Lalumière.

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Dawson, S.J., Suschinsky, K.D. & Lalumière, M.L. Sexual Fantasies and Viewing Times Across the Menstrual Cycle: A Diary Study. Arch Sex Behav 41, 173–183 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-012-9939-1

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Keywords

  • Daily diary
  • Sexuality
  • Ovulation
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Sexual fantasies
  • Viewing time