Turns out that spacey, distracted feeling you might experience when you’re on your period doesn’t have anything to do with it being that time of the month.
According to a new study published in the Frontiers of Behavioral Research, “period brain” might be all in your head. The research team at the Medical School Hannover and University Hospital Zurich found that the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle have no bearing on your cognitive abilities.
"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," said team lead Professor Brigitte Leeners.
Leeners and her team set out to test whether that impression had any scientific basis. They gave 68 women a series of neuropsychological tests assessing their memory, attention and cognitive bias (skewed thinking) at different hormonal phases over two menstrual cycles, finding that the subjects’ fluctuating levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone had no impact on their test results. "Although there might be individual exceptions, women's cognitive performance is in general not disturbed by hormonal changes occurring with the menstrual cycle," Leeners concluded.
This study had a larger sample size than most prior research on the effect of menstruation on the brain. According to Science Daily, Leeners believes that more work needs to be done still — further studies with even larger sample sizes — to dispel the myth of period brain.
We’re pleased to see science subverting a sexist misconception in our society. Although, it’s important that these cognitive findings aren’t conflated with the emotional and physical effects of menstruation. There's no denying that plenty of period side effects, from mood swings to cramps, are legit. The whole “Oh, must be your period,” guff has long been used against women to undermine them. The last thing we need is men calling BS on our PMS.