25 Mar The cycle days you’re more generous to loved ones
BY GABRIELLE LICHTERMAN
- You tend to be more generous toward close loved ones during your luteal phase due to elevated progesterone, a 2022 study shows.
March 25, 2022—Ever wonder why some days you feel like splurging on loved ones? For example, you might see a book you think your sister would enjoy so you impulsively buy it for her. Or perhaps you run across a great buy-one-get-one-free offer on your favorite cookies at the supermarket, but instead of keeping both boxes for yourself, you give one to a friend. Or maybe you get inspired to send your partner an e-gift card to a local coffee shop just to brighten their day.
The reason for your extra generosity could be because of where you are in your menstrual cycle.
Hormones and generosity
According to a 2022 study out of Germany’s Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, how generous you are to loved ones varies based on which phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in.1
To find this out, the researchers asked 109 women ages 18 to 36 years old with healthy, natural cycles to answer questions about how willing they would be to theoretically share money they were given with a wide range of real people in their lives, from close friends and family to those they considered acquaintances or strangers. They had the option of keeping all the cash for themselves or doling some of it out to others who they knew.
The researchers also tracked the study participants’ menstrual cycles, testing their hormone levels to pinpoint which phase of their cycle each was in.
What the study authors discovered: You’re likely to be more giving and share your own resources, such as money, when it comes to close friends and family during your luteal phase–Week 3 and Week 4 of your menstrual cycle, which spans the day after ovulation through the day before your next period. You’re less likely to be as generous with acquaintances and strangers, however.
Why? On these cycle days, your body’s level of the hormone progesterone is higher and estrogen is lower compared to your follicular phase–Week 1 and 2 of your menstrual cycle, which spans the first day of your period through ovulation. The researchers theorize that elevated progesterone pushes you to build stronger ties with those closest to you (such as family members, your partner and close friends) in case you got pregnant during ovulation and need extra support from those who would be most likely to lend a helping hand in case you need it.
If you suddenly get the urge to treat a family member, friend or partner to a gift or share your money with them, consider where you are in your cycle. If you’re in your luteal phase, just be aware that your hormones may be pushing you to lavish them as a way to strengthen your bonds.
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Feeling generous to friends and family? It may be your hormones, research shows. Learn more: MyHormonology.com/progesterone-and-generosity
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(1) Manuela Sellitto, Tobias Kalenscher, “Variations in progesterone and estradiol across the menstrual cycle predict generosity toward socially close others,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, 140 (2022): 105720
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