Updated 20 February 2014

Who's a hunk depends on the time of the month

Did you know that women have multiple sexual preferences during their menstrual periods? Hunks during ovulation and sweeties during menstruation, for example.

New research to be published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin suggests that most women are only attracted to dominant men with a masculine body type for a few days a month – during ovulation – and don’t necessarily desire them as long-term partners.

 So, when you're having your menstrual period, that shy, sensitive guy may make your heart flutter, but the burly man with the deep voice looks inexplicably irresistible when you're ovulating.

There's a biological reason for that, new research suggests.

It's likely that this shift in sexual preferences during ovulation is an evolutionary holdover for humans, scientists report.

In the past

In the past, highly masculine characteristics in men likely indicated high genetic quality, and mating with them increased women's odds of having children who would survive and reproduce.

Prof Martie Haselton, senior author of the study and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), explains:

"Ancestral women would have benefitted reproductively from selecting partners with characteristics indicating that they'd be good co-parents, such as being kind, as well as characteristics indicating that they possessed high genetic quality, such as having masculine faces and bodies."

Read: Private passions: An in-depth look at sexual preferences, fetishism and paraphilias

"Women could have had the best of both worlds – securing paternal investment from a long-term mate and high-genetic quality from affair partners – but only if those affairs were timed at a point of high fertility within the cycle, and probably only if their affairs remained undiscovered.

Women experience preference shifts

"Women sometimes get a bad rap for being fickle, but the changes they experience are not arbitrary. Women experience intricately patterned preference shifts even though they might not serve any function in the present," Haselton, said.

Sexual preferences increase offspring's chance of survival

The researchers noted that female mammals have shifting sexual preferences and behaviours meant to improve their offspring's chances of survival.

"Until the past decade, we all accepted this notion that human female sexuality was radically different from sexuality in all of these other animal species – that, unlike other species, human female sexuality was somehow walled off from reproductive hormones," Haselton said. "Then a set of studies emerged that challenged conventional wisdom."

Read more:

Women prefer men with deep voices

Men with deep voices attract more women

Men’s preference for reproducing with younger women is actually what has led to menopause in women

Men prefer women with feminine features when they want to have a fling


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