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19 Facts About Ovulation That May Surprise You

Did you know that women's ears become more symmetrical when they ovulate? It's true!

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1. Ovulation is the process by which a woman's body produces and releases an egg to be fertilized by a sperm cell, leading to reproduction.

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A couple of important things happen during ovulation:

• The uterine lining thickens to prepare it for the egg cell, which will attach to the uterine walls.

• A ripe egg is released from the ovary and travels down the Fallopian tubes toward the uterus in hopes that some healthy little sperm cells will be there waiting for it.

If the egg is not fertilized, it dissolves and the thickened uterine lining is shed via the process of menstruation.

2. Women are born already bearing the total number of eggs that they will ever have in their lifetime.

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A baby girl is born with 1 to 2 million immature eggs in her ovaries (called oocytes). By adolescence, half those eggs are absorbed by her ovaries. About 300 to 500 of those oocytes become mature eggs in her lifetime.

3. Oral contraception works by preventing or disrupting the processes of ovulation and fertilization.

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Birth control pills work by preventing ovulation. The hormones contained in birth control pills — estrogen and progestin — keep eggs from leaving the ovary. If no egg is released, sperm cells have nothing to fertilize.

Emergency oral contraception, like Plan B, delays or disrupts ovulation, preventing the release of an egg to any sperm that could be waiting in a woman's body. Emergency contraception does not terminate an existing pregnancy.

5. There are a few different ways you can tell you're ovulating. For starters, you can look at a calendar.

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Ovulation happens around the 11th–14th days of a woman's menstrual cycle, about two weeks before menstruation begins. There is a fertile window that a woman has each month that can range from two to ten days before or after ovulation occurs.

There are also tons of period-tracker apps that can help you stay on top of what's going on in that baby maker. Clue, Period Tracker, and iPeriod are just a few available apps that can help you record your menstrual data and help predict when you are most likely to ovulate.

6. Or you can read your cervical fluid.

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As the time to release the egg nears, the cervix begins to produce mucus to help facilitate the quick and safe passage of sperm to the hopeful egg waiting in the fallopian tubes.

Its color and consistency change as fertility increases: When no cervical fluid is present, fertility is low; when it becomes cloudy, creamy, or white, fertility is higher; and fertility is at its highest when the mucus looks like the white of an egg and is "stretchy" — when it clings to your thumb and forefinger while pulling them apart.

7. And sometimes you can feel it happening.

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The phenomenon is called called mittelschmerz, which is German for "middle pain." It occurs halfway through the menstrual cycle, usually around the 14th day, and happens on the side of the ovary that is releasing the egg. It occurs when the ovarian follicle (the sac containing the egg) ruptures and the egg is released.

Not every woman experiences mittelschmerz, and of those who do, some may only experience it occasionally.

8. It is widely accepted that women have what is called hidden estrus, or concealed ovulation.

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Merriam-Webster defines estrus as "a regularly recurrent state of sexual excitability during which the female of most mammals will accept the male and is capable of conceiving." In layman's terms, it is a period of being "in heat."

Unlike other mammals, women do not overtly advertise their fertility. Female baboons, for example, indicate their willingness to mate with red, enlarged, genitals. Women's signifiers are not nearly as dramatic.

9. But there are ways you can tell. Ovulation changes a lot about a woman's behavior, from what she wears to the types of men she's attracted to.

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During ovulation, the female body is basically trying to seek out and attract the healthiest, most virile mate in hopes of reproducing and making strong, healthy babies. It does this by essentially being as "womanly" as it possibly can. As evolutionary biologist Greg Bryant told Discovery News, "women 'turn up' everything that has to do with femininity" when they're ovulating.

10. For example, women's voices get higher when they ovulate.

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Women unconsciously speak in higher registers when they are most fertile. This serves as "evidence of a fertility-related enhancement of femininity consistent with other research documenting attractiveness-related changes associated with ovulation."

In other words, women's voices get higher to make them sound more feminine and more attractive.

11. They put more effort into looking attractive.

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A study published in the Psychological Record suggests that the closer to ovulation a woman is, the more makeup she wears to up her attractiveness in hopes of landing a mate.

14. Ovulating women are attracted to more "masculine" men.

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Women unconsciously seek out men with traits considered to be more masculine, like deep voices and squared jawlines. These are signs of "developmental stability," which is a handy thing to have if you're planning on making healthy offspring.

15. Women are also more attracted to symmetry, and they become more symmetrical themselves.

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All humans are attracted to symmetry, but women especially seek it out during their most fertile days, and research shows that women's fingers, breasts, and ears are at their most symmetrical on the day of ovulation. It is believed that this is the body's attempt to make it appear more attractive in hopes of procuring a mate.

16. The sense of smell is heightened during ovulation.

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According to a study appearing in Hormones and Behavior, ovulating women were much more sensitive to the scents they were given to smell, particularly to the scent of musk and the male pheromones androsterone and androstenone. This may be to help them sniff out a potential mate.

17. And men can smell them too! They're more attracted to fertile women — and can smell when they're ovulating.

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Researchers conducted an experiment where men were given a T-shirt to smell: One group of T-shirts had recently been worn by an ovulating woman, and the other group of shirts had been worn by no one at all. Findings showed that testosterone levels were higher in the men who sniffed the shirts of ovulating women. Higher levels of testosterone drive men to "woo" women and compete with other men for women's attention.

18. This could be a reason why strippers may earn more money than usual.

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A study performed by the University of New Mexico found that the naturally cycling (not taking birth control) exotic dancers they observed made about $355 during ovulation. Comparably, they made around $260 per shift after ovulation, and about $185 per shift while menstruating.

The theory is that men were able to pick up on certain cues that the ovulating dancer was fertile, including scent, motivating them to spend more money on her.

19. Women are more likely to cheat on their mates when they are most fertile.

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In one study, women who were in relationships with men that they rated fairly low on a scale of attractiveness were found more likely to fantasize about other men during their most fertile days.

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