Science of Love, Sex, and Babies

Your right ovary rules

Posted in news by jenapincott on July 13, 2009

200028164-002cropIf you’re like most women you probably think ovulation is something of a meritocracy — that both ovaries do equal work, and that they alternate every cycle.

If by chance you were not taught that the ovaries soldier on left-right-left-right, then you probably think ovulation is random, like a coin toss.

The second scenario is closer to the truth, but it’s not the whole truth. At least not all the time or for most women.

Fact is, your right ovary is likelier to ovulate more often than the left. This means that in two consecutive months, the right side is probably the one doing more of the hard work of producing the dominant follicle that could become a baby.

At least this is what multiple studies have found, including here (57.7% of women have right-side ovulation), here (54.5 percent have right-side ovulation), and here (62% of total follicles are on the right), and here (larger, more numerous follicles).

Why is the right ovary often dominant?

Anatomical asymmetries between the left and right sides are thought to be the reason. The left ovarian vein drains to the left renal vein and the right ovarian vein to the inferior vena cava. The left renal vein is thought to be under higher pressure than the right and therefore drains slower. Because the left ovary drains slower, the collapsed follicle (called a corpus luteum) takes longer to clear and thereby diminishes the chance that ovulation will occur on that side the following month. No such condition exists on the right side, which is why successive right-side ovulation is more common. Estradiol and testosterone levels are also higher during a right-side cycle; this may also be related to the right ovary’s more efficient plumbing as it flushes lining-plumping hormones into the uterus.

All this leads to some fascinating statistics. For instance, right-sided ovulation favors pregnancy more often than left-sided ovulation (64 percent of pregnancies came from women’s right ovaries), according to a study in Japan that tracked nearly 2,700 natural cycles. Then again, according to another study, odds of pregnancy are best when the dominant follicle develops in the ovary opposite to where ovulation took place in the previous cycle (with pregnancy occurring more often in a right-side cycle that follows a left-side cycle) because the dominant follicles in such cycles are healthier. Even if the right ovary drains faster than the left, the corpus luteum left over from the previous cycle still negatively affects the hormonal health of the dominant follicle. Best to start with a clean slate.

Interestingly, researchers in another study speculate that right-side ovulation is dominant for most of a women’s reproductive years. Toward perimenopause women are more likely to become left-dominant, presumably because the supply of follicles in the right ovary has diminished.

Apart from ultrasound, there’s no reliable way of telling which ovary you’re ovulating from. ( I devote a section of BLONDES to why ovulation is concealed, even to women themselves.) If you think about it, perhaps that’s a good thing.

POLL (women only): Are you sexier mid-cycle?

Posted in news, Polls and Surveys by jenapincott on October 13, 2008

One radio host said “ewwww” when I mentioned on her show that a woman’s menstrual cycle has a significant (yet largely subconscious) impact on her appearance and taste in men, but I’m going to press on because I think it’s fascinating. And how lovely it is that findings that I discuss in BLONDES have been supported by a spate of recent, related studies:

1. German researchers added to the pile of evidence that suggests that women dress more provocatively and look prettier around ovulation. When male judges were shown pictures that women took of themselves every day of the month, the guys gave women in the fertile phase of their menstrual cycles the highest attractiveness ratings. The women also considered themselves more attractive at this time of the month.
2. Meanwhile, at the University of Albany, researchers recorded women’s voices at four different times during their respective cycles and played the recordings to male and female judges. Results show that a woman’s voice is significantly higher-pitched and considered more attractive mid-cycle, when she’s most likely to conceive.
3. Women taking oral contraceptives have weaker preferences for masculine faces and voices than do women who aren’t on the Pill, according to a study at McMaster University. The Pill simulates the hormonal profile of pregnancy, and women tend to prefer more nurturing and familiar-looking faces at this time.

%d bloggers like this: