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Summary

Who would think of such a crazy idea to design a study on possible association between beauty and reproductive longevity? Well, it appears that researchers from Wrocław, Poland did it and now published their interesting findings [1]. The cohort included 211 participants, recruited via social networks, information in local newspapers or on a local radio. All participants were of European descent, meeting the following criteria: had no fertility problems (including PCOS), were nulliparous, did not use hormonal contraception or medication, had no chronic disease and no ongoing health problems. Women were invited to participate in the study between the 2nd and the 4th day of the menstrual cycle. The general health status was verified by physical examination and various laboratory tests, and because of that 28 women were excluded. The protocol from that point on was simple: face photographs were taken with digital still camera and shown to a large group of men, aged 18-39 years, who were randomly recruited. Each photo was rated by 100 healthy men of European descent but not more than 15 photographs were presented to one responder. They had to score the face attractiveness on a scale from 1 (not at all attractive) to 9 (very attractive). AMH (anti-Mullerian hormone), total testosterone and estradiol (E2) levels were evaluated in women’s serum.

The intriguing results were as follows: the mean age for the women was 28.5 years, mean age at menarche 12.8, mean facial attractiveness 3.7. Correlation analyses showed that AMH level was negatively related with facial attractiveness (r = -0.19; p = 0.01; 95%CI [-0.32; -0.05]). The contrary was observed for the relationship between facial attractiveness and E2 level (r = 0.21; p = 0.003; 95%CI [0.07; 0.34]). Testosterone was negatively related with perceived facial attractiveness (r = -0.15; p = 0.049; 95%CI [-0.29; -0.01]).

Discussion

AMH level is a good predictor of a woman’s time to menopause, better than mother’s age at menopause [2]. Time to menopause is certainly related to the time spectrum for fertility. E2 level, on the other hand, is a good predictor for successful conception or the number of biological children. Previous studies have already demonstrated the association between women’s attractiveness and E2 levels [3]. It seems that the current study points at one of nature’s most important rules of preserving the continuation of the races. Animals choose their mates, either by demonstrating power, smells, colors or playing complicated fore-games. Humans perhaps are more sophisticated, but basically are the same as animals. Subconsciously, women whom men are attracted to during reproductive years should have a better fertility potential that should eventually translate into increased male reproductive success. For millions of years the human species have had a relatively short life span, during which women were fertile and gave birth to many descendants that built the next generation. Modern times changed this principle, since more women do not want to conceive at younger age but wait for the fourth or even fifth decade of their life to become pregnant. This is certainly a game changer since prediction of the remaining fertile years becomes an important factor, and testing AMH might be desired in this context. The remaining question is what attractiveness means from the male perspective. In real life, there is quite a broad diversity in men’s preferences as to the shape of their ideal woman’s body, yet I assume that scoring of facial attractiveness is less variable. The Polish study suggested that young men unintentionally choose, as mates, women with high E2 levels, yet in the future if late pregnancies become more frequent, perhaps nature will slowly adopt accordingly, and subjective facial attractiveness will evolve and will positively correlate with AMH as well.

Amos Pines, MD
Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University
apines@netvision.net.il

References

  1. Żelaźniewicz A, Nowak-Kornicka J, Zbyrowska K, Pawłowski B. Predicted reproductive longevity and women’s facial attractiveness. PLoS One. 2021;16(3):e0248344.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33690719/
  2. Depmann M, Broer SL, van der Schouw YT, et al. Can we predict age at natural menopause using ovarian reserve tests or mother’s age at menopause? A systematic literature review. Menopause. 2016;23(2):224-232.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26372034/
  3. Smith ML, Perrett DI, Jones BC, et al. Facial appearance is a cue to oestrogen levels in women. Proc Royal Soc B. 2006;273:135-140.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16555779/

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