health

Why am I 60% more clumsy around my period?

Image via New Girl

Why is it that the moment the crimson tide washes upon our shores it brings with it the flotsam and jetsam of stupid and clumsy? What, you hadn’t noticed? This is serious – you’re even stupider than we thought.

(I say that with affection. I once asked “Isn’t north just which ever way you’re facing?” when on my period.)

RELATED: We’ve just busted one of the biggest period myths of all-time. Period

So The Glow consulted Science, and Science says it’s all our hormones’ fault. Our levels of the three major hormones – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone – rise and fall throughout our menstrual cycle, and each has a powerful effect on our emotions, energy levels, cognition and physical functioning.

In the four days before and first four days of your period (aka the paramenstruum), the levels of these three hormones are at their lowest, which causes poor coordination, slower reaction time and "fuzzy thinking".

On top of that (as well as causing you pain!), period cramps can also contribute to making you feel less intelligent.

Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK asked 52 women to complete a series of computer-based tasks, with cramps and then without them. They found that people with period pain perform worse in computer-based tasks and suffer from a reduced attention span.

RELATED: “How I got my period back after 7 years without it”

Lead author Dr Ed Keogh says the survey showed the effects of pain go beyond the sensory experience, affecting what we think and feel too.

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However, your levels of oestrogen skyrocket between day five and 14 of your menstrual cycle. Neurobiologist and author of The Female Brain Louann Brizendine says the hormone acts as a fertiliser for brain cells, which leads to a roughly 25 percent growth of synaptic connections in your hippocampus. This controls functions like your short-term memory and decision-making.

These rising oestrogen levels also sharpen your verbal fluency, so Brizendine recommends planning any presentations or oral exams the day before ovulation when oestrogen levels are peaking.

Why do I feel clumsy on my period?

Not making assumptions, but this would be us

What little spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination I have seems to all but dissipate from my body come moontime.

It's the low levels of progesterone in particular that are responsible for the lack of coordination, in worst cases affecting vision, hand steadiness and movement. A survey conducted in a number of UK hospitals actually found that half of all car accident admissions involving women occurred during these eight days.

RELATED: 8 signs of pregnancy before a missed period

The good news is that there are solutions. Eating a really healthy diet filled with frequent snack of food that provide you with sustainable energy (i.e. not lollies and chocolate biscuits, even though THAT'S WHAT YOU CRAVE), and regularly exercising will help ease these symptoms. When you're younger, taking the pill can help to even out hormone levels and treat PMS, while the HRT can be helpful if you're approaching the menopause.

Do you feel less intelligent or more clumsy before or during your period? What other symptoms of PMS do you suffer from?

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