In 1971 a phenomena called “menstrual synchrony” was discovered by psychologist Martha McClintock. The concept was that when groups of women were living together – such as in dorms, convents, prisons, homes, etc – their menstrual cycle would sync up over time. This was also found to be true with women who worked together.
In most cases it was even found that there was a “menstrual pacesetter” who, through no fault of their own, made the other women conform to their cycle. During the study, the scientists placed “cotton pads” under the arms of those women who had been deemed “dominant” then “wiped the pads on the upper lips of female subjects.” Keep in mind this was 1971, and the pads in question where just under the arms of these women, so let’s not get confused by maxi pads – that would be a whole other set of issues.
Within five months, four of the five pad-sniffers were menstruating at the same time as their “donors.” It was also found that women who spent more time with men than other women had periods that were shorter and more regular. Aha! Proof that the dominant female in your office is messing up your cycles! So our office of 12 women is not crazy for placing blame on that one gal who’s making our cycles irregular and all over the place. Phew… it’s so nice when you discover you’re right.
So far, scientists have yet to find a reason for the mystery, chalking it up to just something that remains within us since prehistoric times when men would take more than one mate as a means to reproduce as much as possible for the survival of the human species. Therefore, it would make sense that women had their periods at the same time.
While some still debate the legitimacy of menstrual synchrony, one thing for is sure: if you’re a woman and you’ve spent a year or two in a college dorm with other women, you’ve probably noticed the bizarre occurrence. We also have an office full of ladies as proof that, scientifically legitimate or not, something is going on over here – or maybe it’s just in the water.
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