Intrusive Thoughts and the Menstrual Cycle

I found a study recently which showed that women are more susceptible to intrusive thoughts related to trauma when in the luteal phase of their cycle. Intrusive thoughts are unwelcome, involuntary thoughts, images, or unpleasant ideas that may be upsetting or distressing. They’re very common, especially in people with anxiety problems and those who have experienced trauma.

In this study, they exposed women to a traumatic video while they were in various phases in their menstrual cycle. For the next few days, the women recorded any intrusive thoughts they experienced. If they were in the early luteal phase (16 to 20 days after the onset of their previous period), they experienced three times as many intrusive thoughts as women in other phases of their menstrual cycle.

More research is needed of course, but this is still a very interesting finding. I feel like this information is really relevant, because if it’s true it can be used to anticipate tough days. I’m considering doing more self care as that phase of my cycle is approaching, and being a little more cautious than usual when seeing trigger warnings.

Here’s a link to the full paper if you’re interested.
Identification of a narrow post-ovulatory window of vulnerability to distressing involuntary memories in healthy women

Thank you for reading this article. You can find my full backstory here.


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