Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version

Sexual Signaling During Ovulation

  • Robert P. BurrissAffiliated withFaculty of Psychology, Basel University Email author 


Attractiveness; Concealed ovulation; Fertility


Women may signal or inadvertently communicate to others their fertility status, which varies over their menstrual cycle.


The likelihood that a single act of sexual intercourse will lead to conception varies over a woman’s menstrual cycle, peaking in the days preceding ovulation (during estrus, sensu Thornhill and Gangestad 2008). Some species of primate advertise fertility status with conspicuous signals, such as bright pink sexual swellings. Women do not conspicuously advertise their fertility, but neither is estrus completely concealed. In an oft-cited study, Miller et al. (2007) asked professional exotic dancers to keep a record of their nightly tip earnings for 2 months. The dancers received about US$67 per hour when they were near ovulation, but only US$52 at less fertile times of the month. Why did patrons give larger tips to ovulating dancers? Research has shown that women’s appearance, body odor, voice, ...

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