September 22, 2011
Do Women’s Voices Really Allow Men To Detect Ovulation?
The voice can reveal a lot about a person - their sex, their age, how they are feeling - and recent studies have even suggested that women's voices might also contain cues that men can read about how close they are to ovulation. A new study, however, published today in the journal PLoS ONE, challenges the view that women broadcast reproductive information in their voice.
Previous studies in this area have typically relied on the comparison of voices recorded in just two phases in the cycle: high conception risk vs. low conception risk. This new work, on the other hand, 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 authors conclude 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. In an interesting further finding, the study found that women's voice were harsher and more irregular during menstruation, providing scientific data to explain why female opera singers may be granted 'grace days' during menstruation.
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