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New Research Suggests Women Exhibit Enhanced Performance and Reduced Errors During Menstruation

The physical and emotional challenges of menstruation are widely acknowledged among many women, yet recent research presents a surprising twist to the conventional belief that women underperform during their periods. Instead, the study suggests that women exhibit quicker reaction times and make fewer errors while menstruating.

Conducted by University College London and the Institute of Sport, Exercise, and Health (ISEH), the research delved into the nuances of women’s cognitive performance during different phases of their menstrual cycle. Contrary to expectations, it discovered that women experienced slower reaction times and poorer timing anticipation between ovulation and menstruation, known as the luteal phase. Additionally, more errors were observed around ovulation.

This revelation challenges the common perception that women’s cognitive abilities decline during menstruation, especially considering that women often report feeling worse during this time due to lower mood and physical symptoms. Writing in the journal Neuropsychologia, the researchers noted a discrepancy between women’s perceived cognitive performance and their actual test results during menstruation.

The study involved 241 men and women who underwent online tests while their moods and symptoms were recorded. These tests, designed to simulate mental processes typical in team sports, evaluated participants’ reaction times, attention, visual information processing, and anticipation abilities.

Interestingly, there was no discernible difference between men and women in terms of reaction times and accuracy. Dr. Flaminia Ronca, the study’s lead author, emphasized the significance of these findings in challenging societal assumptions about women’s abilities during menstruation.

Among the tasks administered, one required participants to press the space bar upon seeing a smiley face, testing inhibition, attention, reaction time, and accuracy. Another task involved identifying mirror images in a 3D rotation, while a third required participants to click when two moving balls collided on the screen.

The results revealed that women exhibited more precise timing during menstruation, with a 12% increase in accuracy in the moving balls task and a 25% reduction in errors in the inhibition task. However, during the luteal phase, women experienced slower reaction times, albeit without an increase in errors.

Dr. Ronca expressed hope that these findings would foster positive conversations among coaches and athletes regarding perceptions and performance. Importantly, she clarified that the study did not measure IQ or intelligence, debunking any suggestions that women’s cognitive abilities vary across different phases of their menstrual cycle.

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