Mental Function Does NOT Change During Menstruation | Can We Break the Stigma?

The stigma associated with women during menstruation goes a little something like this: “they’re a little slow and cranky today, she must be on her period!” Guess what? This notion is simply untrue. Society’s view on menstrual cycles depicts those on their period as, not only gross but also as an embarrassment.

People are censored for even the slightest mention or image of a period stain, yet women’s bodies shown in a more sexual and desirable manner are perfectly acceptable. Stigmas also suggest that women have a lower cognitive ability while menstruating.

It’s a sad and reductive depiction of the capabilities of people on their periods. There may be other contributing factors to the lethargic sense you may feel from time to time during your period, but it certainly isn’t drastically changing the way your brain thinks and functions.

Mental function does not change during menstruation.

A recent study released by Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience explains that “while some hormones were associated with changes across one cycle in some of the women taking part, these effects didn’t repeat in the following cycle. Overall, none of the hormones the team studied had any replicable, consistent effect on study participants’ cognition.

The team of scientists recruited 68 participants. All underwent detailed monitoring chronicling the changes in cognitive processes during each stage of menstruation. The first cycle suggests that cognitive bias and attention were affected the most, but in no way suggests that women cannot complete day to day tasks (or anything for that matter).

During the second cycle, the evidence suggested that cognitive bias and attention were not affected. There was no change in the ability to complete two tasks at once. Similarly, memory function was not impacted during the second and proceeding stages of menstruation. While estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone do increase during menstruation, they do not impact overall cognitive ability and performance. So, to sum up the above statements: increased hormonal levels do not necessarily correlate to cognitive ability.  

The study’s findings also proved that the participants’ performance over time did not change.

Professor Leeners who spearheaded the study said, “The hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle do not show any association with cognitive performance. Although there might be individual exceptions, women’s cognitive performance is in general not disturbed by hormonal changes occurring with the menstrual cycle.”

So, feel free to shut down that awful person who may be drawing unfounded conclusions about you and your time of the month. You’re doing just fine – keep doing you.

 

 

 

Isabelle Marsh

Isabelle is a writer and meadow-tea drinker with a background in wellness, social work and elementary education. She is currently writing a children’s book aimed to educate children on the importance of eating pesticide-free foods and its impact on mood and behavior. She is pursuing her Master’s in Social Work as her passions extend to mental health awareness and its link to nutrition. She educates young women about the importance of body positvity, holistic lifestyles and self-care (especially in the workplace).

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