While people tend to assume that anyone who is menstruating is not working at top mental pitch, new research has found evidence to suggest that that is not actually the case.
Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle have no impact on aspects of cognition, showed the findings published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
“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,” said lead researcher Brigitte Leeners from University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland.
The researchers examined three aspects of cognition across two menstrual cycles, and found that the levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone in your system have no impact on your working memory, cognitive bias or ability to pay attention to two things at once. Overall, none of the hormones the team studied had any replicable, consistent effect on study participants’ cognition.
“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,” Leeners said.
Wondering if this anecdotal evidence could be scientifically proven, the team set out to shed some light on this controversial topic. The team recruited 68 women to undergo detailed monitoring to investigate changes in three selected cognitive processes at different stages in the menstrual cycle.
While analysis of the results from the first cycle suggested that cognitive bias and attention were affected, these results were not replicated in the second cycle. The team looked for differences in performance between individuals and changes in individuals’ performance over time, and found none.