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26 September 2011
Ovulation clues not found in voice
by George Atkinson

Research in the past has suggested that women's voices might contain cues that men can "read" about how close they are to ovulation. But a new study in the journal PLoS ONE challenges the notion that women's voices change during ovulation.

Researcher Stuart Semple, from Roehampton University in London, said that previous studies have typically relied on the comparison of voices recorded in just two phases in the cycle: high conception risk vs. low conception risk. His new study, however, looked at variation in the voice throughout the entire menstrual cycle - a crucial step to evaluate the potential information contained in any observed voice changes.

The new results showed that the overall variation in women's vocal quality throughout the whole cycle precludes unequivocal identification of the period with the highest conception risk. Specifically, while they found that the women studied spoke with the highest tone (suggested by previous studies to be associated with attractiveness) just prior to ovulation, the tone rose again to levels indistinguishable from pre-ovulation shortly after ovulation, making it a very poor mating clue.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that the men studied showed only a very slight preference for pre-ovulation voices relative to voices recorded during ovulation.

In conclusion, the study contends that women's voices do not provide reliable information about the timing of ovulation, confirming the view that information about reproductive state is "leaked" rather than broadcast.

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Source: Public Library of Science

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