May 09, 2019

How Your Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Brain

It has always been assumed that a woman’s period had negative effects on her brain. However, a new study revealed that this is not the case. Professor Brigitte Leeners and her team found that the levels of hormones in a menstruating woman’s system have nothing to do with her working memory, cognitive ability, or capacity to pay attention. As it turns out, women become more adept to certain skills when they are on their period.The BBC notes that some menstruating women have improved spatial awareness, while some become better communicators and, somewhat bizarrely, “others become good at telling when others are feeling fearful”. A woman’s personality could also affect the connection between her period and her ability to think

So with in mind, here are some of the other ways that your menstrual cycle affects your brain:

You have better empathy and theory of mind

During your period, oestrogen affects the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is vital to social abilities. Since you remember your own experiences better, you are able to sympathize and understand the motivation of other people. Your tendency to use both sides of your brain becomes more extreme during your period, too. This shift gives many women the ability to be more flexible in their thinking.

You may feel unmotivated

Especially if you’re one of the 42% of women who have reported that period pain has affected their job to some degree. Journalist Mia Mercado reports that almost one in three women have had to take a day off work because of period pain, and 82% of those women had also found that “their employers didn’t make any kind of accommodations for them.” This can lead to women feeling unmotivated and in some cases lead to depression. The good news is that there is now much more awareness in the workforce with studies being conducted on how periods affect women at work. This is also a reflection of how companies are becoming more concerned with the welfare and mental health of their employees. In Maryville University’s feature on psychology degrees, they detail how psychologists have now found correlations between employer behavior and business objectives. The research is clearly paying off, as some companies are already introducing period policies and period leaves to that put their employees’ welfare at the heart of their company culture. 

You tend to get stressed more easily

Not every woman feels this, but Shape points out that the hormonal fluctuations may cause an uptick in your brain’s stress levels. This explains why you feel bad a few weeks before your period. You may also get occasional headaches, experience difficulty sleeping, and a general absence of energy. If you’re ever feeling down during your period,Tampon Tribe highly recommends turning to food and cooking. We suggest that you snack on Brazilian nuts, cashews, and pistachios. Almonds and walnuts are great choices, too. You should also include a bit more fish, mushrooms, whole grains, and fermented foods into your diet to help with your mood. Every woman struggles differently during their period—it all boils down to how you make the most out of the positive brain changes and cope with the negative ones.

Written by Alisha Channel
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