STYLE

Menstrual Cycle Affects Consumer Behaviour

07/12/2012 09:31 EDT | Updated 09/06/2012 04:53 EDT
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When it's that time of the month, we females want nothing more than to cuddle up in our snuggie, eat loads of chocolate ice cream, watch the chickiest chick flick and let the waterworks flow. Period.

But come mid-month, all that changes. A recent study conducted by researchers at Concordia University shows there's a marked increase in women's appearance-related behaviours during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. According to Gad Saad, professor of marketing and holder of the Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption:

"Our goal was to investigate how a woman's menstrual cycle impacts consumption desires, product usage and dollars spent within the food and beautification domains." The researchers asked 59 female participants to keep detailed diaries over a 35 month time period and, through careful analysis, determined that women were more likely to spend more money on clothes during the fertile phase (days 8 to 15 of a 28-day cycle). However, when it came to food consumption, it's the infertile phase that sees the peak in cravings for highly caloric foods (curse you, days 16-28)."

While we know our hormones mess with us in some serious ways throughout the month (as fun as it is to say the word mittelschmerz, we really wish those lower abdominal pains would go away and never come back), we were flabbergasted to discover the extent to which hormones dictate our ways. One study conducted in 2007 showed we dance sexier when we're ovulating. It revealed erotic dancers made $335 per five-hour shift during their fertile phase versus $185 when they're menstruating (likely due to an increased sexual style). But fear not, we’re still in control; we're less likely to take risks and are more concerned with our personal safety mid-cycle .

And just in case you're meeting up with that prospective match you’ve been eyeing, you may want to factor this into your planning: when we're menstruating, we're more likely to fall for men with softer features, but when we're ovulating, we're all about ripped, Photoshop creatures a la Ryan Reynolds.

Maybe this all means our ape ancestors linger on in us. Saad suggests 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." Those ancient drives still seem to be at work as our estrogen-enhanced behaviours unfold. The good news? This research allows us to feel better about examining our monthly bank account -- after all, it's that time of the month's fault, right?

For those times of the month when food seems your only friend, here are some soothing suggestions:

6 Foods That Ease PMS