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Fertile Women May Be Able to Sniff Out Manliest Men

Update Date: Apr 18, 2013 02:36 PM EDT

A recent study suggests that women can sniff out the most attractive men.

According to LiveScience, some research has indicated that ovulation, which is the time of the month during which a woman's egg is released and is thus the most fertile time of the month for her, can affect women's mate preferences. For example, fertile women tend to more attracted to deeper voices and more masculine faces, traits associated with a higher amount of testosterone. Other studies have indicated that fertile women are drawn to men with a higher amount of the stress hormone cortisol, which indicates a robust immune system.

A recent study decided to put those ideas to the test. They asked male volunteers to wear T-shirts for two days. The men were restricted from eating certain foods and performing certain activities, like spraying cologne or smoking cigarettes, in order to ensure that the shirts smelled like them. The men also gave saliva tests that revealed their levels of testosterone and cortisol. Then women were asked to sniff the T-shirts in order to determine which they preferred, rating each T-shirt on a scale from 1 to 10 on factors like intensity, sexiness and pleasantness. The women were asked about the date of their last period, as well as whether they were on hormonal contraception.

Women who were at their peak fertility of their cycle were more likely to prefer the shirts of the men with the highest level of testosterone, rating them as the most sexy and pleasant. However, women did not show any preference to the hormone cortisol and, when not taking into account women's fertility, women in general displayed no preference based on the men's hormones.

"This is a controversial research area. Studies are highly inconsistent," psychologist Wendy Wood,  who is from the University of Southern California and was not involved with the study, explained to LiveScience. "Only a few studies have shown that women's menstrual cycles influence their mate preferences - many more find no effects of menstrual cycles on preferences,"

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