Have you ever noticed that sometimes it feels like your period syncs with other women in your life?
Your mother, your sister, your best friend or even your university room-mates?
We have all heard about it somewhere or even read about it…
Is this really true?
It all started in 1971 when Martha McClintock, a graduate psychology student at Harvard, published her paper in Nature, a prestigious scientific journal.
She studied 135 students who shared a dormitory and found that their menstrual cycles synchronized over time. She postulated that this effect was the result of pheromones in action.
Pheromones are unconscious chemical signals that act on our sense of smell and in turn affect our behavior.
In 1998 she went on to co-author another publication in Nature that involved women smelling pads soaked in armpit sweat. This process she claimed, changed cycle lengths of the recipients’ cycles over time and was “definitive evidence of human pheromones.”
Many subsequent researchers went on to produce similar results to McClintock.
However, there were just as many studies that showed no evidence of a synching effect. In fact, McClintock’s research and findings have been extensively criticized.
The problem in proving menstrual synchrony is this:
All women are unique.
Individual cycles can vary from 21 to 35 days.
If one woman has a 26 day cycle and another a 32 day cycle, at some point, there will be an overlap of menstruation.
Even if two women had a 28 day cycle each , overlapping periods would be more common than not.
The story of pheromones is a complex one. Scientists are still debating their existence in humans…
Even if they do exist, humans don’t appear to have the same organs as other animals do – to receive and process their signals.
So for me, some questions remain:
Can our cycles ever truly synchronise or do they just randomly phase in and out of appearing to do so over many months as they converge and diverge?
If our cycles can really truly synchronise , how would this be relevant to us in our daily lives and wellbeing ? What would be the evolutionary benefit?
Does this mean that if ovulating women live in close quarters to non -ovulating women, the non-ovulating women will then begin to ovulate?
If this were possible then women struggling with non- ovulatory infertility and irregular periods could have a simple solution.
I love the way women can co-exist and support each other .
I am reminded every day that we have the power to transform…..
With a look, a word ,or an act of service or kindness we can transform a situation entirely .
There is power in the feminine….
It would be so amazing if synchronised cycles were an added physiological superpower.
If we could only use our own cycles to influence the biology of those who need our help….
A supreme act of sisterhood…
With the current medical evidence it appears that sadly we can’t do this.
However there is so much we can do…
From a shared and common experience like surviving a period …..
From talking about how we feel during “that time of the month”….
From just being there to listen to the women in your life….
Therein lies our SUPERPOWER
I love this website “science-based medicine”. Check out their article.
Another interesting read on the subject from Scientific American