Women do their best work when they’re ovulating, according to new study

Positive link between peak fertility and creative potential could help women learn to use their menstrual cycles to their advantage

Kate Ng
Friday 15 October 2021 12:10 BST
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A new study suggests that women tend to perform at their creative best at the most fertile stage in their ovulation cycle.

Researchers found that women’s creative potential became enhanced when they were most likely to conceive, which could point towards innovation being an indicator of fitness to would-be mates.

The team from the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw set creative thinking tasks for more than 750 women aged between 18 and 35.

They wrote: “The higher the probability of conception was, the more original ideas were generated.

“These ideas were also more varied and included more frequent changes in perspective.”

On average, ovulation takes place about two weeks before a woman’s period begins, signalling the start of an “optimal fertilisation window” when they are most likely to conceive.

The positive correlation between peak fertility and creative potential could be an “adaptive function”, argue the researchers, which means humans evolved to use creativity in courtship in order to attract a potential mate.

In 2000, a scientist named Geoffrey Miller first theorised that women use creativity and intelligence as a signal of their suitability to potential partners.

Dr Katarzyna Galasinska and Aleksandra Szymkow, who co-authored the new study, aimed to replicate the initial findings to see if women’s creativity scores aligned with their ovulation cycles.

They also pointed towards previous studies that showed women show behavioural, physical and cognitive changes during ovulation – for example, at the peak of fertility, women’s” eyes become bright and their cheeks red” and they become more motivated to “engage in mating behaviours”.

Dr Galasinska said: “Women evolved in the way that when the time to conceive occurs, they unconsciously start to behave differently.

“Sexual hormones are a kind of mood enhancer than, and a positive mood affects the flexibility of thinking.

“Also, women feel more courageous and powerful, so they sometimes engage in risky situations during the phase near ovulation.

“To be creative, we have to take a risk a little bit, as creativity requires breaking through patterns and mental blocks,” she added.

The findings of the study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, could be helpful for women who want to learn how to use their menstrual cycles to their advantage.

Dr Galasinska added that women should be aware that “when oestrogen increases (and before it drops), our physiological processes are our allies and keep us high”.

“Maybe it is time to arrange the most important issues related to participation in development-oriented projects, or just to create something,” she suggested.

“The remaining time of the cycle therefore seems to be better for evaluation and a critical look at what has been done.”

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