Can hitting the mall tell you whether or not you're ovulating? It's probably not time to throw out that basal thermometer just yet, but when it comes to tracking ovulation, how much you shop—and what you spend your money on—may pinpoint days of peak fertility, says researchers from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, was based on 59 female participants who kept detailed diaries chronicling such habits as time spent shopping, clothing choices, grooming and beautification routines (ie visiting a hair salon), sun bathing, and calorie consumption. When the 35-day experiment was over, it quickly became clear that women spent the most time and money on grooming, shopping, and appearance during their most fertile days (roughly day 8 to 15 of a 28-day cycle).
The explanation for women wanting to look their best when they're—coincidentally—at their most fertile? Researchers say it's actually no coincidence; the focus on outward appearance right around ovulation can probably be traced all the way back to cavewoman days.
"In ancestral times, women had to focus more time on mating-related activities during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, when the likelihood of conception was highest," explains lead researcher Gad Saad, professor of marketing at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business. Because those same psychological and physiological impulses live on in our DNA, Saad adds, ovulating women today engage in the 21st century equivalent: shopping for products that enhance their beauty and desirability.
But are women, especially those hoping to become moms-to-be, buying this theory? Not all of them.
"OK, so I read this study and then immediately looked at my credit card bill from last month. Sorry, but it looks like I am a 28-day shopoholic!" says Karen Kane from Boston, Massachusetts.
Do you notice changes in your shopping habits depending on your cycle? Do you care more about your appearance when it's time to start trying?