Can’t Focus? Maybe It’s the Wrong Time of the Month

The menstruation hut in Tirelli Village in Mali
The menstruation hut in Tirelli Village in Mali

This  is a photo of a special hut where women spend that time of the month in Dogon culture (Mali).  They are “banished” to the hut and are expected to stay there until they are once more “clean”.   During their stay, they are taken care of i.e. someone brings them food etc.

Western women’s reaction to this idea might initially be one of disgust. How degrading, but I suspect most women would secretly welcome the opportunity to curl in a ball away from the stresses of the world for those few days. 

Learning impaired when estrogen levels are high

Biologically it turns out that  you can officially add impaired ability to pay attention and learn to the list of items not functioning optimally.  

Ovulation, which culminates in the period, corresponds with a surge in the release of the hormone estrogen.  High estrogen levels impair the ability of female rats to learn and respond appropriately to environmental clues.

The big noise experiment

Researchers began by exposing rats to a noise.  As any self respecting rat would do upon encountering an unexplained noise, a panic attack insued.  But nothing happened following the noise and so the rats got used to the noise and just ignored it.

Once the rats were comfortable with the noise, the experimenters did a switch.  The noise stopped being harmless and had an unpleasant consequence. 

When the estrogen levels were low, the rat was very quick to figure out things had changed and reacted appropriately.  But high estrogen levels slowed down the learning curve, so it took longer to get the message that things had changed.

Hide in the hut

I know hiding in the hut is not a realistic option in today’s world.  But maybe try to cultivate a little sensitivity to the hormonal turmoil which is playing out inside.

Blame the sluggish thought pattern on the hormones

Try not to schedule major learning moments around this time.  And if performance is slipping a bit, don’t beat yourself up, just blame it on the hormones.

Latent inhibition is affected by phase of estrous cycle in female rats. Brain and Cognition (2010) 74(3) : 244-248; Matthew G. Quinlan, Andrew Duncan, Catherine Loiselle, Nicole Graffe, Wayne G. Brake

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Further reading

aggressive face
downloading files
idle brain
Are you more likely to snap if you are  “hungry” ? How to download more facts into your brain Switch off everything every now and again to switch yourself on

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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