Women's brains 'get bigger' before period

By admin
17 October 2016

There aren’t many upsides of your monthly period, especially as the lead up is just as painful as the event, but as you hold your stomach hunched over in the foetal position when it’s almost that time, some new research may bring some comfort; women’s brains are bigger when they are at their most fertile, just before their period.

For women, once a month our bodies decide to give us a good kicking and despite sore boobs, horrendous stomach cramps and spotty skin, we must solider on as usual.

Scientists from Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, looked into the connection between hormones in women and severe mood swings and found that higher levels of oestrogen led to an enlarged hippocampus, the area of brain central to emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system.

Read more: Period 101

Using an MRI scan, the team of experts measured the size of the hippocampus in a 32-year-old woman every two to three days over two periods at 7.30 am. Thirty scans were completed in all.

The findings have been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, with lead author Claudia Barth explaining the results.

“We found, that in parallel to the rising oestrogen levels leading up to ovulation, the hippocampus also increases in volume - the volume of the grey matter as well as that of the white matter,” she explained.

Read more: Periods have never been this fun!

She adds that it’s yet to be discovered if the enlarged hippocampus improves memory or mood.

The team is now hoping their results will help them understand pre-menstrual dysphoria disorder (PMDD), which causes severe mood swings, listlessness and depression in menstruating women, which affects one in 12 women.

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