Can you tell when a woman is ovulating by looking at her breasts?

Fluctuating asymmetry (FA) is small random deviations from perfect bilateral symmetry that are thought to accumulate during development. FA is therefore a measure of one component of fitness, that is, developmental stability. This work is not concerned with permanent between-individual differences in asymmetries but rather with temporary within-individual changes in asymmetry that are related to the menstrual cycle (cyclical asymmetry, CA). We present evidence from studies of non-sexually selected traits (ear and digit size) and a sexually selected trait (breast size) that, in characters made up wholly or in part of soft tissue, CA varies across the menstrual cycle in women. It is highest at the beginning and end of the cycle, when women are generally infertile, and low in mid-cycle, when fertility is highest. Furthermore in mid-cycle there is an indication of a transitory (24-hour) increase in CA followed by a substantial decrease, which may indicate ovulation. Temporal changes in CA could therefore be used by males to indicate a female’s position in the cycle. We discuss these findings in relation to (1) our understanding of the evolution of human mating systems, (2) the practical implications of these data in the treatment of infertility and to facilitate contraception, and (3) their relevance to exercise and dieting as a means to minimize across-cycle increases in asymmetry.

Source: “Asymmetry and the menstrual cycle in women” from Ethology and Sociobiology, Volume 17, Issue 2, 1996, Pages 129-143

Hat tip: Gad Saad

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