When PMS Stands for Pre-Milquetoast Syndrome

Study says menstruation cycle may affect what kind of man a woman wants

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Weenies of the world, be persistent -- the woman will come around eventually. A study conducted by Scottish and Japanese researchers, to be published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, found that women in the throes of ovulation are most attracted to masculine-looking men -- large jaws, eyebrow ridge, overall size –- you know, the modern-day-caveman stuff that screams virility. But when women are menstruating –- when they are least likely to get pregnant -– the less masculine man in the apron is back on top.

The study is a wee bit flimsy, conducted as it was with all of 39 Japanese women and some digitally altered photos, but it’s reasonably intuitive (besides possibly explaining something about the brevity of the Dennis Rodman-Carmen Electra marriage). "This fits in pretty well with existing sociobiological theory that says that women may have, biologically, a double standard in their choice of men," says TIME science editor Philip Elmer-DeWitt. "When it comes to marriage, women’s strategy is to find someone who will stay and provide. But when it comes to sperm, she may choose the alpha male." For the modern world -– in which most women don’t get to be that finicky, and in which a man’s wallet and personality both go a lot farther than the size of his brow -– the study yields just one piece of practical advice for men. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again -– for at least a month.