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The relationship between ovulation and reward-seeking

Have you ever wondered why you might crave particular foods or be attracted to certain people before getting your period? A series of studies to be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology may help explain why. The results of these studies suggest that there is a relationship between ovulation and variety-seeking in “rewards domains” – with women seeking out the things that bring them pleasure and make them feel good around the time of ovulation.

Neuroscience research has demonstrated that women approaching ovulation show higher reward-related brain activity when presented with something pleasurable (e.g., delicious foods, money). The lead author of the study, Ali Faraji-Rad and his colleagues sought out to build upon this existing research and investigated whether increased sensitivity to rewards would lead to greater variety- and pleasure-seeking behaviours around the time of ovulation. The results suggest that women do indeed seek a greater variety of rewards when they are ovulating. For example, around the time of ovulation women were found to choose a greater variety of ice cream flavours and chocolate desserts than at other times during the menstrual cycle. Their romantic interests also seemed to be heightened during this time of the month.

So if you find yourself craving typically “forbidden” foods or erotic pleasures, check where you are in your menstrual cycle. It may be that your hormones are in overdrive.

To read more about this study, click here. 

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