A Menstrual Myth?

Calling all my period pals! Have you ever been hanging out with a group of fellow menstruators and complained about cramps, only to find your sentiments echoed back by the whole group?

“I feel you – I got my period today too.”

“I got my period yesterday – everything hurts…”

“I’m supposed to get mine tomorrow!”

You guys are all on your period! That’s weird…you weren’t all on your period at the same time last month. Nor the month before. Oh my gosh, did you all sync up? Who’s the alpha?

 

by Erol Ahmed via Unsplash

The ‘Science’

For a while now, the notion that groups of women who spend a lot of time together somehow synchronise their menstrual cycles has become a common fallacy. This ‘phenomenon’ is known as menstrual synchrony and was first scientifically identified by Dr Martha McClintock in 1971, when she conducted a study on almost 150 college students residing in a dormitory college at Harvard University. She actually found very strong evidence for her theory! But as we know, correlation doesn’t equal causation, and one study just isn’t enough to prove a hypothesis.

Regardless of this, thus began one of the most widely believed period myths.

Since then, there have been extensions on this theory – implying that whichever woman in the group had the strongest pheromones was the alpha, unwittingly disrupting the cycles of all the other women and forcing them to match her own. There have even been theories making connections between the menstrual cycle and the moon; that women’s fertility is in conjunction with the lunar cycle. But recent research can confirm that we aren’t as werewolf-esque as some would think.

 

by William Hook via Unsplash

 

Debunked!

With the rise of period-tracking apps, not only do us busy menstruators have a handy cycle reminder at our fingertips, but we unknowingly are some of the biggest contributors to debunking this myth once and for all! Data from these apps have now proven that menstrual synchrony is just a big coincidence.

Knowing how varied the menstrual cycle can be both month-to-month for one individual, and between individuals have now allowed it to be widely accepted that all menstrual synchrony falls under the umbrella of mathematical coincidence.

It’s no surprise that women throughout history have been quite misunderstood. From the burning of “witches” in the mid-17th century, to renowned theoretical physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking stating “women are a mystery” in an interview back in 2012, we’ve been mystified by the opposite gender numerous times. Menstrual synchrony, however, was a myth created and perpetuated by our very own!

It’s good to know that science will always prevail as the unbiased trooper or truth – helping us navigate our way through this menstrual madness.

If you want to know more:

  • https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/period-syncing#research
  • http://www.mum.org/mensyn.PDF

6 Responses to “A Menstrual Myth?”

  1. Sreya Lodh says:

    Thanks Aashwiny – I went to an all-girls school for high school, and I felt the same way! I was actually quite surprised that the phenomenon was a myth.

  2. Aashwiny says:

    I really loved the post! A great read and it made me realized how my group of friends always somehow have our period on a similar time scale! Thanks for sharing, especially the debunk!

  3. Sreya Lodh says:

    Thanks Olivia!

  4. Sreya Lodh says:

    I know right! Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  5. Olivia says:

    Thanks for the history lesson and the debunk! An interesting read

  6. kwijethilake says:

    Ahahaha this is good to know because I’ve always been a bit skeptical of the idea of synchronised menstrual cycles. Interesting how the findings of one study have become such a commonplace belief for everyone.