Mood swings, abdominal pain, nausea, acne, and bloating. Do any of these sound familiar? These are all some of the most common effects of menstruation and, until recently, a drop in cognitive function was widely accepted as another one.
Despite what old assumptions might have been, new scientific research is transforming the way that we look at the menstrual cycle. According to a study led by Professor Brigitte Leeners, menstruation does not actually negatively affect your cognitive functions. It is common for people to believe that hormones that are released during the cycle have a significant effect on cognition, but Leeners learned that estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone do not actually consistently inhibit cognitive performance.
Leeds measured cognitive ability at four different points during the menstrual cycles of 68 different women. The participants were tested on their abilities through tests that specifically measured their cognitive bias, memory, and attention. The test spanned the courses of two consecutive menstrual cycles.
As one can expect from an experiment, there were outliers, so some women experienced cognitive changes as a result of their periods. According to Leeds, however, “Although there might be individual exceptions, women’s cognitive performance is in general not disturbed by hormonal changes occurring with the menstrual cycle.” So, even though certain women were affected by their cycle, the overwhelming trend showed that, typically, women are able to perform just as well whilst menstruating as they would if they were off of their cycle.
So, your period affects a lot of things. It can cause discomfort, fatigue, gas, vomiting, and more. But one thing it cannot do is prevent you from taking your next biology test or attending your 8 AM classes. Oh well.