The fascinating journey of a woman’s menstrual cycle is governed by a complex symphony of hormones that are also found to have a significant impact on the brain. Recent neurological research conducted through MRI scans has shown that the volume and thickness of specific brain regions change in tandem with hormone levels over the menstrual cycle. The brain areas implicated in the studies are part of the limbic system, which controls emotions, memory, and behavior.
Two separate studies released in October found that higher concentrations of estrogen and luteinizing hormone were tied to changes in the white matter of the brain, suggesting faster information transfer. Additionally, the surge of follicle-stimulating hormone during ovulation was associated with an increase in the thickness of the gray matter. These findings pose intriguing questions about the potential effects of these hormonal fluctuations on a woman’s everyday life and behavior.
In a similar pattern to the ebb and flow of tides, a woman’s hormonal levels rise and fall over the course of her menstrual cycle, with an average life expectancy of around 450 menstrual cycles. Two studies conducted using advanced MRI techniques found that these hormonal fluctuations across the menstrual cycle are significantly associated with changes in the morphology of the brain, thus confirming that this cycle also impacts brain structure. The brain areas implicated in the studies are significant for cognitive and emotional function.
In the early 1990s, groundbreaking experiments on the brains of female rats revealed the dramatic effects of estrogen. These experiments indicated cyclical fluctuations in neurons across the rodent menstrual cycle, with a similar process speculated to exist in humans.
Conclusively, these studies have paved the way for future research concerning the potential impact of brain structure on mental health, behaviors, and everyday living. This represents an exciting area of research that could provide deeper insights into the complex interactions between hormones and the brain. For further scientific insights on human behavior and neuroscience, contact [email protected] and watch this space for our upcoming newsletter, “Well+Being”, your go-to source for expert advice and tips for living well every day.