megaphoneIf you’re a regular reader of this Hormone Horoscope blog and you use the Hormone Horoscope apps, I think it’s safe to presume it’s because you enjoy finding out about the many ways your hormones impact your mood, memory, energy, romantic life, shopping habits and more.

And you probably appreciate learning about study-proven tips for easing menstrual cycle-related woes, such as menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a more intense version of PMS.

Well, if you want researchers to conduct more studies about these topics, I’m here to tell you that you need to let them or the folks who fund them know. This way, you motivate them to continue delving into these topics.

So, how can you make your voice heard? It’s probably not feasible to write to every researcher personally to ask for more research about cycle-related issues. However, you can be one of many voices that helps build momentum around cycle-related issues by making your passion about this topic known publicly.

Just a few ways you can do this:

  1. Write about your hormones, cycle-related issues you’re dealing with or facets of your cycle that you’re interested in learning more about in places that can be accessed and searched easily, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and your online blog. If a researcher or someone who funds research is looking for posts related to menstrual cycles and hormones, they may be inspired to conduct a study based on growing interest they’ve discovered through posts like yours.
  2. Bring up cycle-related topics when you’re talking with friends and family. You never know who knows a researcher or someone who funds research–and what you say may be passed along and inspire a new study. Or your passion may inspire a fledgling college student to become a researcher in this area.
  3. Add comments to other people’s articles and social media posts. For instance, when you see an article in an online newspaper reporting on a new study about how hormones impact mood, health or behavior, thank the journalist for covering the research or mention how that study might help you in the comments section. Researchers and publicists for institutions that fund research read a lot of the articles about their work–and your comments can help steer them toward future research.

When we’re all more comfortable talking about cycle-related issues and make it clear we want more information, it nudges researchers and funders of research in the direction we want them to go.

Want proof this works?

Take a look at the charts below. These are screenshots from ScienceDirect and PubMed, which are online catalogues of millions of published studies. I’ve done searches on these websites for menstrual cycle, premenstrual and dysmenorrhea (the clinical term for menstrual cramps). Take a peek at how much research was done in 2015 (all of 2016’s studies aren’t on these websites yet) compared to years ago. Here are just a few takeaways from these charts:

  • There were over 1,000 more studies that mention the term “menstrual cycle” in 2015 than in 1998 on ScienceDirect. And there are nearly double the number of studies that include this term in 2015 compared to 1970 in PubMed.
  • The term “premenstrual” had been found in more studies from 1998 to 2009 in ScienceDirect–but since that year, the number has actually dipped from its peak of 493 to 337. Still, it’s far more than the 31 studies found in 1970 at PubMed.
  • There are more than double the number of studies mentioning “menstrual cramps” since 1998 in ScienceDirect. And almost quadruple the number compared to what was published in 1970 on PubMed.

graph1graph3graph2  graph1pmgraph3pm
graph3pm

Except for the recent dip in studies mentioning “premenstrual” at ScienceDirect, the general overall trend in more studies about cycle-related issues has been going up.

I can’t say I know for sure why this is, but I have a hunch:

I think it’s due in part to adults and society as a whole becoming more comfortable talking about hormones and menstrual cycles. We’re less inclined to consider it offensive or sexist to learn about how our hormones impact us–all of us, which includes premenopausal cycling women, postmenopausal women and men. We’re in an age where we want to know more information about our bodies to improve our health and well-being.

As a result of this higher level of comfort, we hear more mentions of menstrual cycles and hormonal effects on TV and in books, magazines, movies and newspapers. And this, in turn, raises our comfort–and curiosity–about our cycles and hormones even higher.

And I believe it’s this general increasing “chatter” about menstrual cycles and hormones that is one key reason more researchers and those who fund research are inspired to conduct more studies in this area.

After all, if the study is something the average person will want to hear about, it means it will likely get mentioned in the media–and this is valuable free advertising for the institution where the research was conducted or for the medication or treatment that was discovered.

And it’s this free advertising that can generate money for the folks behind the study–either through the direct sale of medications or products or indirectly, for instance, because it helps a university or researcher obtain a grant or it encourages more students to enroll at the school where the research was conducted. Or the free advertising might help study authors sell books or products of their own.

So, the more of this chatter that gets out there–from your social media posts, blog entries, discussions at parties and comments on online articles–the more researchers and those who fund research take notice. And it helps make the number of studies we want to learn about continue to climb.

[Photo: Sara Simmons]