Symmetry...the key to attraction?

Women who are symmetrical are not only more attractive to the opposite sex, but more fertile. Roger Dobson reports

The days of assuming a strategic posture to show off your better side are numbered. For not only are symmetrical women more attractive, but it now seems that they are more fertile.

Extensive research has revealed that women whose left sides are almost identical to their right sides have 30 per cent higher levels of female hormones, increasing chances of conception.

It has long been suggested that the more symmetrical a woman's facial features are, the more attractive men will find her. But the latest study goes further, claiming that the entire body's symmetry plays a key role in indicating how fertile it is.

Scientists at Harvard University claim that women whose feet, ankles, hands, fingers, eyes, breasts, arms and ears are the same size on each side have an abundance of the hormone oestradiol.

"Our results suggest that symmetry is related to higher levels of oestradiol and, thus, higher potential fertility. As a consequence, men attracted to more symmetrical women may achieve higher reproductive success," said the researchers.

To test the theory, researchers at Harvard and colleagues at European institutions carried out detailed investigations on about 200 women aged 24 to 36 with regular menstrual cycles, no fertility problems, and who were not using hormonal contraception. The researchers used measurements of the fingers on the left and right hands of the women as markers of symmetry. The second and fourth digits of each hand were measured to the nearest millimetre. If the fourth left and fourth right fingers differed in length by up to 1mm, the woman was classed as symmetrical, while those with differences greater than 2mm were asymmetrical.

Saliva samples were taken and tested for female hormones. The results show that there were considerable differences between the two groups of women. Symmetrical women had 21 per cent higher mid-cycle female hormones than asymmetrical women. At other times the differences was as high as 28 per cent.

"Oestradiol produced during the menstrual cycle is crucial for successful conception, and levels of oestradiol are important indicators of a woman's ability to conceive," said team leader Dr Grazyna Jasienska of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

She added that the average hormone levels are associated with the probability of conception of 12 per cent, while a 37 per cent rise in levels increases the probability to 35 per cent.

"In our study, levels in symmetrical women were almost 30 per cent higher than those in asymmetrical women. Such difference in hormone levels suggests a substantial increase in the probability of conception for symmetrical women," they said.

They suggest that higher levels of female hormones may also explain why symmetrical women are healthier, because the hormones are known to stimulate the immune system. The downside for symmetrical women is that high levels of female hormones during the reproductive years may cause problems in the post-menopausal years because, say the authors, high levels of the hormones are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and other malignancies.

Other research at the University of New Mexico shows that people with symmetrical faces are better able to fight infections. The common cold, asthma and flu are all more likely to be combated efficiently by those whose left side matches their right.

University of Western Australia researchers have also found a link between symmetry in men and sperm quality. They found that those with left and right side differences had poorer sperm quality. They say the finding may explain why women are unconsciously attracted to symmetrical male faces.

The secret of sexual attraction is in the smell

The secret of sexual attraction can at last be revealed - starting with that first longing look through to canoodling and, for some, consummation. And it's not so much about that certain special chemistry as it is about certain special chemicals. Far from being an intangible, poetic feeling of "connection", lust and love can be boiled down to a set of compounds - and smell.

In one of the first academic studies into the subject, reported in the medical journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy, psychiatrists set out to define sexual chemistry and list its ingredients, a feat that has eluded most researchers.

A team from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey says a chemical in the central nervous system - norepinephrine - imprints images of the loved one; serotonin is responsible for intrusive thoughts about the partner; dopamine provides the exhilarating physical symptoms; and the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine stimulates falling in love.

Hormones also play a role, with vasopressin encouraging exclusive focus on one partner, and oxytocin triggering cuddling. Androgen levels are also linked to higher levels of sexual drive.

Body smell plays a big part as well. The report asserts "that sexual chemistry in humans may be influenced by the unconscious attraction by two individuals to each other's unique odour".

Roger Dobson

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Accounts Assistant, Hammersmith

    £25000 per annum: Charter Selection: Exciting sports company with a strong bra...

    Contract Pipe Fitter - Stainless Steel

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I have a contract Pipe Fitter role avail...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    Executive Assistant - London - up to £40,000 + bonus

    £33000 - £40000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Executive Assista...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil