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Data from: Chemical signals from eggs facilitate cryptic female choice in humans

Cite this dataset

Fitzpatrick, John et al. (2020). Data from: Chemical signals from eggs facilitate cryptic female choice in humans [Dataset]. Dryad.


Mate choice can continue after mating via chemical communication between the female reproductive system and sperm. While there is a growing appreciation that females can bias sperm use and paternity by exerting cryptic female choice for preferred males, we know surprisingly little about the mechanisms underlying these post-mating choices. In particular, whether chemical signals released from eggs (chemoattractants) allow females to exert cryptic female choice to favour sperm from specific males remains an open question, particularly in species (including humans) where adults exercise pre-mating mate choice. Here, we adapt a classic dichotomous mate choice assay to the microscopic scale to assess gamete-mediated mate choice in humans. We examined how sperm respond to follicular fluid, a source of human sperm chemoattractants, from either their partner or a non-partner female when experiencing a simultaneous or non-simultaneous choice between follicular fluids. We report robust evidence under these two distinct experimental conditions that follicular fluid from different females consistently and differentially attracts sperm from specific males. This chemoattractant-moderated choice of sperm offers eggs an avenue to exercise independent mate preference. Indeed, gamete-mediated mate choice did not reinforce pre-mating human mate choice decisions. Our results demonstrate that chemoattractants facilitate gamete-mediated mate choice in humans, which offers females the opportunity to exert cryptic female choice for sperm from specific males. 


Samples were obtained from couples receiving assisted reproductive treatment at the Department of Reproductive Medicine at Old St. Mary’s Hospital in Manchester between 2015-2017. 

Usage notes

Raw data used in analyses. These data include: simultaneous choice sperm data, simultaneous choice clinical data, non-simultaneous choice sperm data, non-simultaneous choice clinical data, and sperm velocity data. A legend is included in each data file explaining what the column headings mean. Note that the dataset was updated after publication on 25/6/20 to clarify legend descriptions and details of male and female annonymized identities.


Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Award: 2016-0146

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Award: 2017–04680