By Saumya Bajaj
Periods have long been taboo, even to this day. Although there were (very) few studies in the 19th and 20th centuries concerning periods that were actually done well and were replicable, the ones that were done had some valuable information debunking common myths associated with women’s menstruation. Now, we have quite a few more female scientists (though not nearly enough), so there are more studies pertaining to periods. These studies more often than not completely disprove myths relating to periods. Let’s take a look at some of these myths that still continue to haunt women around the world.
Do periods affect cognitive function? No. Absolutely not. In fact, one of the first reputable studies into menstruation was about whether or not periods affect cognitive function. Leta Hollingworth actually conducted this study for her dissertation, concluding that it does not affect ability. Another more recent study done just this year headed by Brigitte Leeners concluded precisely the same thing. So when someone says women shouldn’t be leaders because they can’t think straight during their periods, you can tell them “Wrong”.
Do women’s cycles sync up if they spend enough time together? Again, no. This is called “menstrual synchrony” in the science community. Martha McClintock conducted the original study suggesting this, but several papers were published reporting flaws in this study. While McClintock suggested pheromones, doubt was cast upon this conclusion, along with many people’s inability to reproduce this study.
Does PMS necessarily cause mood changes? No. A team led by Sarah Romans reviewed 47 studies, concluding that there is very little correlation with mood changes and menstruation, let alone PMS. While this didn’t say that mood changes are never caused by PMS, it did say that most women don’t have mood swings caused by hormonal changes during PMS.
While there are quite a few more myths that continue to limp along, they are continuously being debunked, slowly being chipped away at until they completely fall. In the meanwhile, know that everything you read about periods isn’t necessarily true.