7 Studies You Need To Know About If You’ve Ever Had A Period Before

Being on your period sucks. If you are a person who has had a period, this is something that you will know be true already–like, they’re necessary, technically, but this doesn’t detract from the fact that they hurt, and make you feel irritable and bloated, and, of course, mean that there is blood literally coming out of your vagina when you are on your period.

But, even if you experience a period once a month (or so), chances are good that you don’t actually know all that much about them. Periods are usually thought of as a thing that is simply to be endured, not understood (probably because, a lot of the time, enduring them is just about all you can do). But there are actually some studies on menstruation that have been done over the past few years that, besides just being interesting, can also help you make your period feel a little better. So, check out these interesting studies you need to know about if you’ve ever had a period before:

Your Brain Grows When You're On Your Period

Ever feel like your brain, uh, swells a little when you're on your period? You might not be wrong. According to a study done by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany, women's brains may change slightly every month in sync with their cycle. This is because your hormones fluctuate in your body depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, which also affects the size of your hippocampus (the part of your brain that controls emotion and memory). Basically, as your estrogen increases, so does the volume of your hippocampus. This is a preliminary study with a small sample size (the study looked at thirty different women) so more research is needed. Still, it could explain why some women experience mood swings when they're on their period.

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You And Your BFF Won't Match Cycles

Been spending a lot of time with your best friend in order to match up your periods? Sorry. That's probably not going to happen. This idea comes from a study that was published in Nature magazine ion 1971 that claimed roommates and close friends showed increased period synchronization. This study was later found to be flawed, however, since the study didn't monitor its subjects for a long enough time, and later studies haven't been conclusive enough to definitively say that women who spend a lot of time together link up their periods. (But, hey--this doesn't mean that you shouldn't hang out with your best friend anymore. Maybe it'll just sort of happen anyway?)

Image source: iStock

Yoga Can Make Your Period Less Painful

People who do yoga, as a rule, are some of the most annoying people in the world. (I do a lot of yoga, and I myself am insufferable, so I am allowed to say that.) But, according to a new study, they might be onto something. A paper published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that yoga can help relieve many of the negative side effects of periods, like cramping, bloating, and stress. This probably doesn't come as a huge surprise to you (exercise in general can be helpful if you have uncomfortable periods), but there is a pervasive belief in some cultures that women shouldn't do yoga or exercise at all on their periods, so this study refutes that. Obviously, don't force yourself to go to yoga if you don't want to, but if you're looking for an all-natural way to alleviate period cramps, this might be the way to do it.

Image source: iStock

Sugary Drinks Can Make You Get Your Period Sooner

Getting your period can often seem like a mystery. If you've gotten it already, it can feel like you're the only person who has it. If you haven't gotten it yet, it can feel like you're the only person who hasn't gotten it. Of course, genetics are the main indicator of when you're going to get your period, but, according to a study done in the U.S. in 2015 that involved over five thousand girls, another trigger could be the beverages you drink. This study found that girls who drank more than one and a half servings of sugary drinks every day started their menstrual periods nearly three months earlier than those who consumed two or fewer sugary drinks per week. Of course, this is only an association, not a true cause-and-effect scenario, so there's no definitive link between you getting your period and drinking some sugary drinks. Still, it's pretty interesting to know about.

Image source: iStock

You Won't Attract Bears When You're On Your Period

Uh, just in case you were wondering. The idea that bears are more attracted to people who are on their periods is an old wive's tale that stems from bear attack that happened in the 1960s to a woman who was on her period, but, according to a report published by Yellowstone National Park, menstruating won't make you more susceptible to wild animals. Bears do respond to the scent of blood, but only if it's out in the open--not if you just happen to be on your period. So, feel free to go camping this weekend--even if you're on your period.

Image source: iStock

Your Period Tracking App Isn't As Accurate As You'd Like It To Be 

Do you use your period tracking app as birth control? You should, uh, not do that anymore. A recent study done at the University of Washington found that pretty much all period trackers have a tendency to be a little bit off. Basically, not all bodies will conform to a standard 28-day menstrual cycle all the time, so there will be some days in which your app says your body should be doing one thing when it's really doing another. This is fine (if a little annoying) if you're just using it to know when your period is coming, but if you're using it as your main form of birth control, you can't really afford to have any leeway there. So, you can use period trackers--just don't expect it to tell you the gospel truth.

Image source: iStock

It Isn't Studied As Much As It Should Be

This isn't really a study, per se, but if there's one thing that researchers probably agree on, it's that we don't know nearly as much about periods as we should. In 2015, reproductive health researchers in Scotland looked through 40 years worth of studies on anything relating to menstruation and found a depressingly scant amount of information. This means that much is still unknown about menstruation, which causes monthly health problems for many women, and could be more easily dealt with if there were more information on it.  Going into the medical field? Maybe you can make a difference later on.

Image source: iStock

Were you surprised by any of these findings? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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