Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Science reveals the surprising truth about “period brain”

reese witherspoon legally blonde chocolate.jpg

We’re no strangers to the aches, cramps and mood swings that roll around every month with the arrival of our periods.

And for some of us, this blessed time of the month can also feel like it’s accompanied by “period brain”, a fun phenomenon in which we feel more forgetful and less able to concentrate thanks to the increase in hormones flooding through our bodies.

Previous scientific studies around “period brain” have suggested that women can be more impulsive and moody before their periods, before becoming more rational once their menstrual cycle has ended.

However, a new group of scientists believe they have found enough evidence to debunk the “period brain” myth once and for all, with the largest study of its kind finding no direct link between periods and cognitive ability.

The largest study of its kind found no direct link between periods and cognitive ability.

The largest study of its kind found no direct link between periods and cognitive ability.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, the study examined whether a woman’s period affected her memory, concentration, cognitive bias and ability to multitask.

The researchers tested the cognitive functioning and hormone levels of 88 women at four different points throughout their menstrual cycles, before retesting 68 of them at the same points during their following menstrual cycles. 

Read more: Meet the heroic teens battling period taboos in Nepal

They found that, while there were a couple of hormonal changes in cognitive functioning for women during their first periods, these changes were not replicated during the second periods. This led them to conclude that there is not  enough “consistent association” to prove that the “period brain” does exist.

Period brain - just a figment of our imagination?

Period brain - just a figment of our imagination?

In a statement regarding the study, lead author Professor Brigitte Leeners, who works in the University Hospital Zürich, 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.”

As is the nature with these sorts of studies, however, Leeners added that more research is needed before the concept of a “period brain” can be completely ruled out – and until then, we’re happy to keep blaming any forgetfulness or lack of concentration on our time of the month.

Your move, science.

Images: iStock / Type A Films



Samira Wiley and Margaret Atwood’s friendship sounds perfect

kindness use.jpg

City launches kindness initiative to spotlight small acts of heroism

girls hannah marnie xennial.jpg

Are you a gen x, millennial... or a xennial?


20 soothing, beautiful songs guaranteed to help you fall asleep

An expert picks the ultimate classical music playlist

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2017

Puppy dog eyes are a thing and your dog makes them just for you

A study says dogs change their facial expressions when humans are looking

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2017

Here’s how to buy a house or a flat for the princely sum of £1

It's time to enter the real-estate raffle

by Megan Murray
20 Oct 2017

Oxford University under fire for shocking lack of racial diversity

One MP called the revelations an example of “social apartheid”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2017

This prosecco festival is the best way to start feeling Christmassy

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Missing your 16-25 railcard? We have good news for you

Rail bosses have taken pity on cash-strapped millennials

20 Oct 2017

This man’s response to his friend’s period while hiking is everything

“I had NOTHING on me and I was wearing shorts”

by Susan Devaney
20 Oct 2017

Why anxiety makes it harder to follow your intuition

It can have a paralysing effect on decision-making

by Anna Brech
19 Oct 2017

“Why all men must work to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse”

In wake of the Weinstein allegations, one writer argues why men need to be counted

19 Oct 2017

Rage, lust, power and warmth: how it feels to experience ‘red emotions

“I grew up being told my body was terrifying and my voice was unimportant”

by The Stylist web team
19 Oct 2017