A women’s menstrual cycle can affect more than just the way she feels physically and emotionally. The hormone changes might also influence creativity, with research suggesting the phases before and during ovulation can spur creativity — in both women and the men around them.
German researchers tested 34 healthy women (21-31 years old) on creativity assessments during the four different phases of their menstrual cycles. (Half of the women were a control group taking oral contraceptives, which regulate sex hormones.) The study found that:
During the preovulatory phase, creativity was in general improved when serum concentrations of estrogen (E2) and luteinizing hormone (LH) were highest whereas motor perseveration decreased. In control women, there was no preovulatory improvement of divergent thinking and no preovulatory decrease in motor perseveration.
Another study (PDF) of 28 women and 10 men (18-25 years old) found similar results, with “figural creativity” (thinking creatively with pictures, as opposed to words) significantly higher in women during the follicular (that preovulatory phase) and luteal phases (post-ovulation).
Interestingly enough, women near their peak fertility seem to prefer men who display more creativity rather than wealth, at least during that short time. And it’s possible that men pick up on those cues and subconsciously respond by displaying more creativity. CNN writes:
A new study suggests that when young men interact with a woman who is in the fertile period of her menstrual cycle, they pick up on subtle changes in her skin tone, voice, and scent – usually subconsciously – and respond by changing their speech patterns.
Specifically, they become less likely to mimic the woman’s sentence structure. According to the researchers, this unintentional shift in language may serve to telegraph the man’s creativity and nonconformity – qualities that are believed to attract potential mates.
It seems that when the sex fluids are flowing more readily, so too might our creative juices.