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Menstruation and Women's Voices: Can Men Hear When You Have Your Period?

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A new study says that men may be able to tell when a woman has her period by her voice.
A new study says that men may be able to tell when a woman has her period by her voice.

You know those adorable cases they sell for carrying your tampons to the bathroom so you don't have to reveal to every man in the office or restaurant or DMV that you're on your period? They may not be that useful, according to new research. A recent study indicates that for at least some men, it's not the Tampax box sticking out of your purse that gives away your menstrual status -- it's your voice.

The psychologists behind the study, which was published in the December issue of the journal Ethology, recorded 10 women counting to five at four different points throughout their menstrual cycles, Popular Science reported. The researchers then played these recordings for three groups of male participants in a random order and the men to pick out which recordings were made while the women had their periods. They guessed correctly 35 percent of time, which the researchers told Popular Science was quite significant.

In one group, the men were asked to pick out the most "unattractive" voice recording. Again, they chose recordings where women were menstruating 34 percent of the time -- falling in line with a 2008 study which claimed that female voices became more attractive to men during ovulation and less attractive at less fertile points of the menstrual cycle. Popular Science's Jen Abbasi writes:

A subconscious (and often conscious) aversion to menstruation makes sense in evolutionary terms, since males wanting to pass on their genes are better off seeking out females closer to ovulation.

Previous studies have also found evidence that women's voices change during menstruation -- though scientists disagree as to whether men subconsciously pick up on these cues as a way to detect when women are ovulating. According to Wired, a German study published in September 2011 found that while women were on their periods, their voices tended to be "heavier and less harmonic."

The German study also played recordings of women's voices at various times during their cycles to heterosexual men and found -- shocker! -- that males had varying preferences when it came to women's voices. So before you get self-conscious about how you sound four to seven days of the month, realize that even though 35 percent may be significant scientifically, for real men and women, it's only 35 percent. For the other 65 percent, maybe you could use a monogrammed tampon case from Etsy after all.

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