17 Jan You’re better at parking a car during your period
Want at least one good reason to love your period? Your mental rotation powers peak on these days in your menstrual cycle!
Research shows low estrogen=high spatial skills
According to a 2019 study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, during menstruation, women excel at tests measuring spatial skills–the kind needed to mentally maneuver images, which helps you park a car into a tight space, navigate a new route to work and build lamps, dressers, houses and other things.(1)
Researchers believe this spike in mental rotation ability occurs because low estrogen on these cycle days allows testosterone (a hormone that governs spatial skills) to dominate.
This isn’t exactly new news
While interesting and useful, this study is not the first to make this finding. Researchers have been examining this hormonal effect for decades.(2) (In fact, you’ll find this handy tidbit in my book 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals About Your Moods, Health & Potential.) However, when new studies support past ones, it helps to confirm those results.
Use this insider info to your advantage
So, what can you do with this information about your hormones? When you can, sync your cycle so that you’re doing tasks that require spatial skills during your Week 1, which starts with the first day of your period. For example, need to assemble a new lamp? Map a trek you’re taking during a big trip? Circle Week 1 in your calendar to tackle it.
You can boost spatial skills all cycle long
What if you want to be a mental rotation master on every day of your menstrual cycle–not just during your period? You can! A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Science Education shows that regularly doing tasks that require mental rotation strengthens areas of the brain that manage this skill, making you better at it.(3) And practicing can be fun: For example, playing Tetris, building with Legos or trying your hand at origami all help sharpen this skill!
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(1) Diana Peragine, et al., “Sex difference or hormonal difference in mental rotation? The influence of ovarian milieu,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, Published online November 9, 2019
(2) Elizabeth Hampson, Doreen Kimura, “Reciprocal effects of hormonal fluctuations on human motor and perceptual-spatial skills,” Behavioral Neuroscience, 102 (1988): 456-459
(3) Anne U. Gold, et al., “Improving spatial thinking skills among undergraduate geology students through short online training exercises,” International Journal of Science Education, 40 (2018): 2205-2225
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