S u m m a r y :
Ladies, your menses don’t change the way your brain works! Or so says a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
Breaking a Long-Held Belief
Menstruation does not affect cognition. The new findings, thus, come as a challenge to the long-held belief that hormonal changes associated with menses influence the performance of the brain.
Menstrual Cycle & Hormonal Changes
Hormonal fluctuations constitute an important aspect of the menstrual cycle; hormones are chemicals that stimulate certain responses in the body, and they are key to initiating menstruation and the related processes. The scientific world has long assumed that these changes in women affect how well their brain function. Researchers from the Medical School Hannover and University Hospital Zürich, thus, wanted to find out whether this was really true.
“As a specialist in reproductive medicine and a psychotherapist, I deal with many women who have the impression that the menstrual cycle influences their well-being and cognitive performance,” says lead author Brigitte Leeners.
True or not? Short answer, no! The brain’s performance is not affected by the menstrual cycle.
Studying Women For 2 Menstrual Cycles
Compared to previous similar studies, the new one involves a much larger sample, and more than just one menstrual cycle.
A group of 68 woman were monitored, and three cognitive processes of theirs were examined at different points during their menstrual cycle; the investigation went on as the participants went through 2 cycles.
The results show that the levels of hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone do not affect working memory, cognitive bias, and attentiveness of a person focusing on two things simultaneously.
Some of the participants did display changes (with respect to cognitive bias and attention) linked with hormones. But, that was just for one cycle, and the same did not happen again for the other cycle.
The researchers also found no difference in performance between individuals; investigating for changes in individual performance also showed nothing.
It was, therefore, concluded that none of the hormones exerted any consistent effect on cognition.
Hormonal Changes NOT Linked with Cognition
According to Leeners, hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle are not linked with cognition. She does mention the possibility of individual exceptions though.
Leeners adds that more research needs to be done. For instance, larger subsamples entailing participants with hormone disorders will be a good addition. Furthermore, more cognitive tests should be performed in order to have a broader idea of how menstrual cycle may affect the brain.
This research is hoped to change the perspective of people concerning menstruation. So, no, when you’re having your menses, it does not necessarily mean that your brain will perform poorly!