Dodge pain by timing it right

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Dodge pain by timing it right


If you had the choice, would you prefer to have a potentially painful experience (say, a dental procedure or breaking in new shoes) occur during a time in your monthly cycle when you’re more sensitive to pain or less sensitive to pain?

You know what, don’t answer that. I’m going to assume that unless you’re feeling the peculiar need to torture yourself, you’d pick the low pain days.

Cycle days when pain is lowest

Fortunately for you, over the years, researchers zeroed in on a key phase in your cycle when pain sensations are duller: Your Week 2 (the week leading up to and including ovulation).

According to numerous studies (such as this, this and this), high estrogen and testosterone on these cycle days have a pain-blunting effect.

Though, don’t be misled: This doesn’t mean you won’t be needing Novocain during a root canal or can enter a dance competition with a new pair of shoes right off the shelf. But, it does mean that, at the very least, you’ll be feeling a bit less pain compared to other days in your cycle.

A second low-pain cycle phase discovered

But, what if you miss your Week 2 pain-blunting window? You have a second chance!

A 2018 study from the University of Oxford reveals that there’s another phase in your cycle when pain is lower: The second half of your Week 3 (which is Days 18 to 22 in a 28-day cycle).

They discovered that on these cycle days, rising estrogen and progesterone reduce pain “intensity” and “unpleasantness” by curbing emotional signals in the brain that exacerbate discomfort.

As an interesting sidenote, the researchers were inspired to test this cycle phase for pain because of research that shows high estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy reduces pain sensations. Not sure a whole lot of pregnant women would agree, but that’s evidently what the literature shows.

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