Why Don't Womens Menstrual Cycles Always Synchronize?
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Why Don't Womens Menstrual Cycles Always Synchronize?

Studies have shown, and you may have experienced this yourself, that women who spend a lot of time together gradually begin to synchronize menstrual cycles. A study commonly sited regarding this phenomenon is described below.

"Scientists at the Sonoma State Hospital Brain Behavior Research Center in California identified several women who were believed to be menstrual pacesetters--they made other women conform to their cycles. The scientists placed cotton pads under the dominant women's arms for a day, and then wiped the pads on the upper lips of five female subjects three times a week. (One wonders how much the subjects got paid for this.) Within five months, four of the recipients were menstruating at the same time as their donors (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/532/do-the-menstrual-cycles-of-women-living-together-tend-to-synchronize)."

The theory is that women's menstrual cycles synchronize as a response to pheromones (chemicals that send messages by smell). However, not every study has shown the same result and there are said to be too many variables for it to be conclusive. One reason would be differing eating habits within a close group of females. If a female has drastically reduced her caloric intake than her menstrual cycle can be delayed or missed completely. Unstable caloric intake (or irregular eating habits) can cause an irregular menstrual cycle as the body struggles to set a pattern. Although pheromones do appear to play a role in when our bodies menstruate, factors like eating habits could easily supersede the effect of these chemicals.

Women within a household are more likely to synchronize because their eating and lifestyle habits are similar.

Women may also not synchronize to other women when they spend a lot of time with men, or they have sex with a man al least once a week. Sexually active women will find that when they are having sex regularly their menstrual cycle will also become more regular.

Originating from a household with 4 women, my opinion on this phenomenon is influenced by my personal experiences. When I kept eating habits and activity levels similar to my family members we were synchronized but when I began to keep different eating habits and increased my level of activity my body began to set its own pace again.

It is believed that the purpose of synchronized menstrual cycles is to maximize fertility. Perhaps these hormonal influences have weakened over time, or maybe it was easier for womens mestrual cycles to sync in tribes because they kept a very similar lifestyle. I wish there were statistics for synchronized mestrual cycles in polygamous households. This information would add more weight to the theory.

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