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
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
Extras
indybest
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
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
Latest stories from i100
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

    Community / Stakeholder Manager - Solar PV

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Senior Marketing Executive (B2B/B2C) - London

    £32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    C# .Net Developer

    £23000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: C# .Net Develop re...

    Electronics Design Engineer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client are l...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor