Menstrual period not linked to women's cognitive abilities, study suggests

A behavioural study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience on Tuesday suggested that the menstrual period does not have any consistent association with a woman's ability to make rational decisions, remember things, or keep an undivided attention.

The study assessed 88 menstruating women from Hanover, Germany and Zurich, Switzerland. It was conducted in two cycles, with the first cycle involving all the participants and the second involving 68 of the participants for re-assessment in order to eliminate practice effects and false-positive chance findings.

As reported by, three cognitive aspects were tested in the study, which included visuospatial working memory, cognitive bias and divided attention.

The participants were tested at various points in their menstrual cycle, had blood samples taken to measure estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels and given cognitive tests.

The researchers concluded that there is no consistent association between the change of women's hormone level - particularly estrogen and progesterone - and attention, working memory, or cognitive bias.

Although the findings in the first cycle suggested that hormonal changes have "significant effects" on the participants' cognitive biases and attention spans, the findings were nullified as they did not re-occur in the second cycle.

"Although there might be individual exceptions, women's cognitive performance is in general not disturbed by hormonal changes occurring with the menstrual cycle," said Brigitte Leeners, lead researcher of the study, as quoted by Newsweek.

However, researchers admit that there are limitations to the study and that a larger sample would have been preferable.

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