Irritable, maybe. Dumber? HELL, no.
I grew up with two sisters, a mom and goldfish named Gloria, so I know women. And I know menstruation. And a quick poll of the internet’s opinion on the matter vindicates what I’ve suspected since I was old enough to giggle at the Tampax in our bathroom cupboard: Periods make women go nuts!
Look, here’s ample evidence to prove it: The Modern Man’s article “Why Do Women Act Crazy On Their Period?,” WikiHow’s illuminating list “3 Ways To Deal With A Premenstrual Girlfriend,” and, of course, the Yahoo! Answers classic “does pms make woman act crazy ? why?” to which the best-voted reply is, “PMS is the time of the month that the demon enters the woman [sic] body.”
So you can just go ahead and ignore this new scientific study rejecting the notion that menstruation affects women’s cognition. After all, it was conducted by a team led by Brigitte Leeners, a doctor at the University Hospital of Zurich and a professor of reproductive endocrinology?—?but also, a woman.
You can ignore the fact that Leeners and her team studied 88 menstruating women (in the study’s first cycle—no pun intended) and 68 menstruating women (in its second) to assess “visuospatial working memory, attention, cognitive bias and hormone levels at four consecutive time-points across both cycles.” And that the participants completed 32 computerized tests to determine their aptitude for processing shape, color, size, number and contour.
You could just conveniently forget that Leeners and her colleagues looked at the aptitude tests of these 156 women and concluded:
There is no consistent association between women’s hormone levels, in particular estrogen and progesterone, and attention, working memory and cognitive bias.
In other words: No, periods don’t decrease women’s cognitive abilities. Leeners, in an interview with Mic Network, emphasized the study’s findings: “We can draw the conclusion from our results that this is a myth?—?that women can function absolutely well, despite having a menstrual cycle.”
To the menstruation-fearing masses who are sure to litter the comments with remarks about PMS, I say: Yes, of course some women experience symptoms like irritability, anxiety, physical discomfort and depression in the days leading up to their periods. But that is not the same thing as cognitive impairment.
OK, fine. So maybe periods don’t really affect the brain’s prefrontal cortex and screw with major processes like logic, reasoning and problem solving. What does that mean for your average woman/person who’s in a relationship with that woman?
Well, I think the reason why This Matters is because it’ll help us start de-stigmatizing a biological process that happens to literally half of the adult population. We can start stripping periods of their medieval reputation, including stuff like, “It’s the time of the month that the demon enters the woman [sic] body.” We can start looking at women as, you know, people.
For my part, anyway, I now know that it probably wasn’t her period that made Gloria so stupid. It was probably that she was a goldfish.