Women’s face reddens more during ovulation, but too delicate for men to notice

Imagine you’re a massive Johnny Depp fan and one day instead of your dreams you meet him in person. What is the closest possible reaction one can expect from you, besides being star struck and mushy? Simple – getting all scarlet. You wouldn’t be able to believe anything happening around you and would only blush at the merest of a comment like “You’re so lovely.” However, if you’re ovulating by any chance at this time, you’ll be at a higher tendency of blushing that normal, according to a new study.


Photo credit: Fred Lewsey

Researchers from Cambridge and Northumbria University discovered that women’s face skins reddens more during ovulation, albeit the change is too negligible for men to detect in naked eye.

Until now, studies only showed that men both in case of primates as well as human beings are more attracted to women when the latter is ovulating. But now the new study has pinpointed the possible causative link, which is the redness of face skin.

However, women don’t advertise their involuntary ovulation unlike primates lest it prevents longer-term promise from men. In primate species, males “only” show sexual inclination towards females when they “appear” to be fertile thus, explaining the females’ reason to not hide the redness of their skin during ovulation.

Dr. Hannah Rowland, from the University of Cambridge’s Zoology Department, who headed the study said that “women don’t advertise ovulation, but they do seem to leak information about it,” because past studies have shown that men find women more attractive when ovulating.
However, owing to the redness of the face skin staying just under the brink of detectability sexual behavior is not constrained to crest fertility. “Although it could be a small piece of a much larger puzzle,” Rowland added, not driving aside the redness factor altogether.

22 women who are undergraduates from different colleges were drafted for the research. They were photographed without any make-up right before they had dinner in the college hall at the same time every evening at the same environment for at least a month. A scientifically modified camera was used to accurately detain the changes as against normal camera which couldn’t have detected them. A computer programme was developed to pick a matching patch of cheek from each picture.

The participating women also opted for a self-test for changes in luteinizing hormone during important phase, stated by the researcher team as “period maths.” A rush in this hormone hinted the researchers about ovulation occurring roughly in the following 24 hours, so they knew which pictures to be taken when the women were most fertile.

The team turned the imagery into RGB (red/green/blue) values to determine the changes and color levels. They discovered that redness differed considerably throughout the ovulatory cycle, rising to the crest level during the latter stages of ovulation after the sex hormone – oestrogen levels fell. The redness dropped down with the commencement of menstruation.
However, the average change in redness was only by 0.6 units as against 2.2 units that is necessary to make the change visible to naked eye.

As evolutionary methods made way, women unconsciously enhanced the natural redness of their face skin during ovulation by using beauty products such as blusher or red clothing as the researchers projected that primates, involving human beings are attracted to red.
The researchers also said that women show a greater tendency to blush during ovulation. Dr. Robert Burriss, who is a psychologist from Northumbria University and co-headed the study, said, “Other research has shown that when women are in the fertile phase of their cycle they are more flirtatious and their pupils dilate more readily, but only when they are thinking about or interacting with attractive men.”

Burriss emphasized that he and Rowland need to do more research in order to see the possible connection between the skin redness and interaction or thinking of attractive men.

Although, Burriss and Rowland envisaged the idea seven years ago, they were unable to do the research until Rowland came to Cambridge.

This study was published on June 30, in Plos One.

In a 2011 study, researchers from California University stated that people who blushed were considered to be more generous, honorable and trustworthy than those who didn’t.

Matthew Feinberg, the author of the study said: “Moderate levels of embarrassment are signs of virtue. You want to affiliate with embarrassed people more. You feel comfortable trusting them.” The study further discovered that those blushed frequently were found to be have more monogamy thus, proving to be a better lover.

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