Monthly cycles: fluctuating hormone levels affect the structures in the female brain

Monthly cycles: fluctuating hormone levels affect the structures in the female brain

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Great impact of the monthly cycle in women: hormone fluctuations change the brain
The female cycle often leads to very rapid mood changes due to the fluctuating hormone level. Even the brain changes in time with this cycle, as has now been shown in a study. The new findings are an important step in researching the connections behind the so-called premenstrual dysphoria.

Up and down hormones
Women experience the ups and downs of hormones every month during their menstrual cycle. These fluctuations apparently influence significantly more than the change between fertile and sterile days. According to a message from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig, the fluctuating hormone level changes the structure of the brain with astonishing regularity. This is now proven by the results of scientists at the institute.

Fluctuations in brain structure
"We found that the volume of the hippocampus increases in parallel with the rising estrogen level until ovulation - both that of its gray and its white matter," explained Claudia Barth, who was the lead participant in the study. The results were published in the "Nature Scientific Reports" magazine.

According to their own statements, the researchers cannot yet say how the fluctuations in this brain structure specifically affect behavior and special mental abilities. But you have a guess: “The hippocampus plays a central role in our memory, our mood, our emotions. It has already been found in mice that not only the hippocampus, but also various behaviors are subject to a type of monthly cycle. ”

Particularly receptive in certain phases of the monthly cycle
Further investigations should show whether these observations can also be transferred to humans. “If, for example, it turns out that women are particularly receptive to certain phases of their monthly cycle, this could possibly be used for therapies,” says the neuroscientist. These could then be deliberately placed in the most favorable periods in which women are particularly well placed to take on new things.

Research into premenstrual dysphoria
At the same time, the researchers lay the foundations for their overarching goal: to research the neuroscientific connections behind the so-called premenstrual dysphoria, or PMDD for short. According to the information, about every twelfth woman is affected by this disease in the days "before her days".

They then suffer from particularly severe physical and psychological complaints, such as lack of drive or mood swings that resemble a depressive episode. “In order to understand the neuronal processes behind this suffering, we first have to find out which monthly rhythm the brain of healthy women follows. Only then can we determine the differences to those affected by PMDD, ”said study director Julia Sacher. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Female Reproductive System - Menstrual Cycle, Hormones and Regulation (August 2022).