What Changes Does the Brain Experience During Menstruation?

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Menstruating women will have around 450 menstrual cycles throughout the course of their lifetimes. Getting more information on the many physiological impacts that these cycles can have is vital. As a result, neuroscientists Elizabeth Rizor and Viktoriya Babenko from the University of California, Santa Barbara, made the decision to look into the topic more thoroughly and conduct an investigation. How exactly do our brains manifest during menstruation?

Continue reading down below.

These results are the first to report simultaneous brain-wide changes in human white matter microstructure and cortical thickness coinciding with menstrual cycle-driven hormone rhythms; […] Strong brain-hormone interaction effects may not be limited to classically known hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal-axis (HPG-axis) receptor-dense regions, explained the researchers.

The research team followed 30 women over the course of their menstrual cycles, documenting in great length the structural alterations that occur in the brain when hormone profiles shift. The primary emphasis of the study was on how the brain communicates with itself during cognitive activities. In addition, in order to fill in the knowledge gap about menstruation, the research team scanned its participants using MRI throughout all three phases of the menstrual cycle, namely menstruation, ovulation, and the mid-luteal phase. In addition to all of these scans, some measurements of the subjects’ hormone levels at the same time were recorded.

The findings

The findings demonstrated that variations in hormone levels cause changes not only in the quantities of gray and white matter but also in the total amount of cerebrospinal fluid. It was shown that decreasing levels of progesterone, which occur after ovulation, were linked to increased tissue volume and lower cerebrospinal fluid capacity. For instance, shortly prior to ovulation, when levels of the hormones 17beta-estradiol and luteinizing hormone tend to rise, the brains of the subjects revealed alterations in white matter that were suggestive of quicker information transmission. Quite impressive, isn’t it?!

You can read more details on the researchers’ findings and work here.

Tiesha loves to share her passion for everything that’s beautiful in this world. Apart from writing on her beauty blog and running her own beauty channel on Youtube, she also enjoys traveling and photography. Tiesha covers various stories on the website.