Creativity peaks in Week 2 your menstrual cycle

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Creativity peaks in Week 2 your menstrual cycle



  • If you’re looking to come up with an inventive idea, brainstorm during Week 2 of your menstrual cycle (the days leading up to and including ovulation). Studies show these are the cycle days when creativity peaks.


UPDATED OCTOBER 28, 2022 (originally published May 18, 2015)Have you ever needed a truly out-of-the box idea? You know, something so original you knew it would absolutely WOW a client, boss, teacher or project partner? Or that would make a vacation, party or gift truly memorable? Or that would take your business, art or band to new heights?

No matter why you need a unique idea, if you’ve got a natural menstrual cycle (meaning no hormone birth control), studies show that you’ll have significantly more creative ingenuity during Week 2 of your menstrual cycle.1

These are the days leading up to and including ovulation in your cycle, also known as your late follicular phase.

The creativity/menstrual cycle connection

What makes your brain bubble over with creative insights during your Week 2?

Credit goes to high estrogen, which reaches its peak on these cycle days. As it climbs, this hormone revs mental energy, so you think faster on your feet. It also improves mood, which makes you more optimistic and less judgmental about what you dream up, so you continue to look for ingenious ideas even if some are real clunkers.2

Creativity makes a love connection, too

Intrigued by the menstrual cycle’s impact on creativity, a research team from Poland’s SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities has been trying to pinpoint why this extra dose of ingenuity would arise on these specific cycle days. In a 2022 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, they think they’ve come close to the answer.3

The scientists suspect that higher creativity is tied to finding a mate in time for ovulation. 

If you’ve been a fan of Hormonology for any length of time, this may not come as too much of a surprise. After all, high estrogen during ovulation has all sorts of effects that have the single-minded goal of pushing you to partner up during the fertile days of your cycle. Just a few of these estrogen-driven effects include making you more outgoing, talkative, impulsive, fashionable and willing to take risks.

However, those effects have pretty obvious intentions: If you’re more outgoing, talkative, impulsive, fashionable and risk-taking, you’ll clearly be more likely to leave the cozy comfort of your living room couch to go out into the world to socialize, and even flirt.

But, how can creativity help with landing a romantic mate?

The researchers from Poland have a strong hunch. But, first they had to confirm that creativity peaks at ovulation. So, they recruited 72 women to take tests that measured their creative abilities, including fluency (the number of ideas they came up with), flexibility (how varied the ideas were) and originality (how unique each idea was). For example, participants were given a name of an everyday object (such as a shoe, towel and bottle) and asked to generate different unusual and creative uses for that object within a five-minute period.

Because these tests were done at the participants’ homes (it was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic), they also asked the women to use at-home tools to track where they were in their cycle. This included using an ovulation microscope (which measures the amount of salt in your saliva to determine where you are in your menstrual cycle) and LH test strips (which measure the amount of luteinizing hormone in your urine, which spikes 24 to 36 hours before ovulation). This helped the researchers administer creativity tests when the women were menstruating, ovulating and in their premenstrual phase.

What the researchers discovered: They confirmed that as fertility increased (along with rising estrogen) in menstrual cycles, the volunteers, indeed, came up with significantly more unique ideas and had a wider variety of ideas.

With this confirmed, they shared their theory: They believe that being able to come up with more original ideas may be “mental ornamentation”. It’s like dressing up in a flattering outfit…but for your brain. For instance, in conversation, you’ll be able to show off your uniquely novel approaches, which make you stand out and get noticed.

The study authors also surmise that this mental ingenuity may work to ward off romantic rivals, too. After all, showing off helps you outshine other competitors in the room who may be vying for your crush.

How to come up with creative ideas all cycle long

Does higher creativity in Week 2 mean you can’t come up with ideas that impress during other weeks of your cycle?

Not at all! You may simply need to put a little more effort into it since lower levels of estrogen can make your brain a bit sluggish or make you more critical of plans you come up with.

To make things easier for you, researchers have uncovered several simple techniques to overcome these hormonal hurdles and unlock your creativity so you can show off to folks with amazing ideas any week of your cycle.

Here are 5 to try:

1. Imagine putting together unexpected combinations that would never work, like a peanut butter and marbles sandwich. This prompts the brain to think more abstractly, triggering more creative ideas, research shows.4

2. Sit in a room with high ceilings. This frees your mind and fosters more abstract thinking, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.5

3. Literally sit outside a box (or cubicle or square shape of any kind). A 2012 study in the journal Psychological Science suggests this tells the brain to try something new.6

4. Walk in a non-linear way (for instance, zig-zagging or wandering around). This encourages the brain to explore ideas that are “off the beaten path”, the same 2012 study found.6

5. Tightly squeeze a tennis ball with your left hand for four minutes (you can take rest breaks if you need to). Tensing muscles in your left hand triggers a surge of activity in your brain’s right hemisphere–the side where creative ideas originate, according to a 2010 study in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.7

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(1) Katarzyna Galasinska, Aleksandra Szymkow, “Enhanced Originality of Ideas in Women During Ovulation: A Within-Subject Design Study”, Frontiers in Psychology, published online June 9, 2022
Katarzyna Galasinska, Aleksandra Szymkow, “The More Fertile, the More Creative: Changes in Women’s Creative Potential across the Ovulatory Cycle”, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, published online May 18, 2021
Rosemarie Krug, et al., “Jealousy, general creativity, and coping with social frustration during the menstrual cycle”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 25 (1996): 181-199
Rosemarie Krug, et al., “Effects of menstrual cycle on creativity”, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 19 (1994): 21-31
(2) Matthijs Baas, Carsten K. W. De Dreu, Bernard A, Nijstad, “A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus?”, Psychological Bulletin, 134 (2008): 779-806
Rosemarie Krug, et al., “Effects of menstrual cycle on creativity”, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 19 (1994): 21-31
(3) Katarzyna Galasinska, Aleksandra Szymkow, “Enhanced Originality of Ideas in Women During Ovulation: A Within-Subject Design Study”, Frontiers in Psychology, published online June 9, 2022
(4) Albert Rothenberg, “Janusian thinking and Nobel prize laureates”, The American Journal of Psychiatry, published online April 1, 2006
(5) Joan Meyers-Levy, Rui (Juliet) Zhu, “The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing That People Use”, Journal of Consumer Research, published electronically June 1, 2007
(6) Angela K. Y. Leung, et al., “Embodied metaphors and creative ‘acts'”, Psychological Science, 23 (2012): 502-509
(7) Abraham Goldstein, et al., “Unilateral muscle contractions enhance creative thinking”, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17 (2010): 895-899

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