The monthly menstrual cycle is an inevitable norm for women – and many have over time held that it affects brain function.

A new study has however suggested that the menstrual cycle does not change how the brain works.

To arrive at the findings, Brigitte Leeners and her team at the Medical School Hannover and University Hospital Zürich recruited 68 women to undergo detailed monitoring.

The research team examined three aspects of cognition – estrogen, progesterone and testosterone – at different stages in the menstrual cycles.

Analysis of the results from the first cycle suggested that cognitive bias and attention were affected, but there was no repeat during the second cycle.

None of the hormones the team studied reportedly 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.

“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.”

The research has been published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.



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