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Author Topic: Periods and pheromones?
foxyleah3
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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To all of the guys out there who are made queasy by women discussing their periods...do not read further! [Razz]

On Saturday, I started spotting completely out of the blue. I am on birth control pills, so my periods are pretty regular, and this was right in the middle of my cycle. The thing that interests me is that on that day, I was visiting my SIL in the hospital because she just had a baby. I have heard that women's cycles can be effected by the pheromones of other women, but could I have started bleeding from the various hormones in the maternity ward? I only bled on that one day. I tried to look it up online, but I didnt find anything. Do I sound crazy? [Smile]

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Slainey
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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No you're not crazy. There was I study I read when I was seriously trying to get pregnant that had to do pheramones and being around pregnant women. I've also had a couple friends tell me that had milk let down after visiting a materity ward.
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Arrow-Tech IV
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TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI

This may sound like an odd question, but could the bleeding be coming from (ugh, I'm really going to go here...) somewhere else, like the anus? The reason I ask is that I have dealt with a hemmorhoid in that region that I didn't realize even existed until I had one-day spotting.

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foxyleah3
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Wow, thanks for the info! Its weird to think that our bodies are so effected by other women!

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On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

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foxyleah3
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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arrow-tech, thanks for the warning, but im pretty sure it was my period.
but...was bleeding really your only symptom??? i thought hemmoroids were painful???

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On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

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Arrow-Tech IV
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Okay, once again...TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI

I think that they're supposed to be painful, but I usually seem to have a high tolerance to pain, so, I'm not a good judge. Anyway, and this is really more info. than any sane person would share, but mine was actually a small tear on the outside of the anus, caused by straining on a single bowel movement. I didn't feel anything, just freaked out when I saw the blood.

And now, *please* cleanse your mental palates.

Arrow "I've done it. I've now said EVERYTHING." Tech IV

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vanilla
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quote:
Originally posted by foxyleah3:
arrow-tech, thanks for the warning, but im pretty sure it was my period.
but...was bleeding really your only symptom??? i thought hemmoroids were painful???

TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI
TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI

That should do it...

Not all hemmoroids are painful. I once got one like arrow-tech's in that I didn't know it was there until I began to bleed quite a bit after a particularily constipated and extremely stressful night. Worse part was I was at the Hollywood Bowl, did not have my purse or any money, intermission was ending, and the bleeding did not seem to want to stop.

It was defineately one of my worse nights.

vanilla(that and it was the last date with my then-STBX-now-DH as my "last chance to make it work" before he filed)pink

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Bonnie
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quote:
There was I study I read when I was seriously trying to get pregnant that had to do pheramones and being around pregnant women.
Tell me about that study.

quote:
I've also had a couple friends tell me that had milk let down after visiting a materity ward.
So, how would that work, anyway?

Bonnie "better lait than never" Taylor

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Cervus
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I have never, never experienced any shift in my cycles that could be related to being exposed to a pregnant woman - or any women on their periods, for that matter. Most people claim that women who live together synchronize their cycles, and I call BS. Both from personal experience, and because no one has even shown me scientific reasons why this could or would happen. You put a lot of women together (like a dormitory, or prison, for example) and sure, some of them are going to have their periods at the same time. But each is statistically independent, and no woman's menstruation is going to cause another woman to menstruate as well.

quote:
I have heard that women's cycles can be effected by the pheromones of other women, but could I have started bleeding from the various hormones in the maternity ward?
How? By breathing them? And how far does this extend? Do women suddenly start spotting or ovulating when exposed to a baby or pregnant woman? No. Sorry; your experience was a coincidence. Coincidence does not mean causation.

quote:
I've also had a couple friends tell me that had milk let down after visiting a materity ward.
Like your wife's hairdresser's sister's roommate? [Razz]

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Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Arrow-Tech IV
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Vanilla_pink, I am in COMPLETE sympathy.

Arrow "When it's bad, it's bad -- but a stressful date makes it worse" Tech IV

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Arrow-Tech IV
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quote:
Originally posted by foxyleah3:
To all of the guys out there who are made queasy by women discussing their periods...do not read further! [Razz]

On Saturday, I started spotting completely out of the blue. I am on birth control pills, so my periods are pretty regular, and this was right in the middle of my cycle.

In the book _Taking Charge of Your Fertility_ by Toni Weschler, MPH, I found a plausible explanation for what you describe.

I'm quoting from the 2002 edition, page 224.

"Ovulatory Spotting -- Simply stated, some women have a day or two of light bleeding right around ovulation. Not only is this spotting normal, but it's another fertility sign that can help identify where they are in their cycle. It's usually the result of the sudden drop of estrogen just before ovulation and tends to occur more often in long cycles."

Since you said that this occurred in the middle of your cycle, it sounds like it occurred right around the time of ovulation, maybe day 11 or 12 of the cycle...?

Arrow "Not pregnant, but using my new fertility books for something, dammit." Tech IV

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breezylynn
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well for dogs at least this is true. I'm a breeder (coonhounds) and it's a well-known fact that one female being in heat can bring others in. If i have a female in heat and there's a nother female overdue to come in that needs to be bred, kenneling them together will usually bring the other female in. our dogs tend to cycle in 'clusters' for this reason. we have 10 breeding age females - four are in heat now, four were in heat in january, and two were in heat in february.
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Chickee Daizy
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I've never spotted when I was ovulating, but I did spot frequently when I got pregnant for the first trimester, even before I knew I was pregnant. Could you be pregnant, foxy?

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Arrow-Tech IV
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Also, from what I found on google, menstrual synchrony seems to be one of those things that a lot of people talk about, but very few have done research on.

Martha McClintock is one of the few who's actually done any research on it. Apparently (and this is a bit gross), she rubbed underarm sweat (with the pheromones contained within) from one set of girls on the upper lips of another set of girls and, apparently "reset" their cycles.

Here's an article.

If her science is valid & women's pheromones do have the ability to affect other women's cycles, I'm assuming that it would be more likely to occur in the ways most frequently discussed -- among sports teams (lots of sweat) or roommates (sweat & laundry).

Edited to add the following: And, if it occurs in animals too, kenneling together to bring on estrus makes sense! [Smile]

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cynicgal
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quote:
Originally posted by Cervus:
I have never, never experienced any shift in my cycles that could be related to being exposed to a pregnant woman - or any women on their periods, for that matter. Most people claim that women who live together synchronize their cycles, and I call BS. Both from personal experience, and because no one has even shown me scientific reasons why this could or would happen. You put a lot of women together (like a dormitory, or prison, for example) and sure, some of them are going to have their periods at the same time. But each is statistically independent, and no woman's menstruation is going to cause another woman to menstruate as well.

quote:
I have heard that women's cycles can be effected by the pheromones of other women, but could I have started bleeding from the various hormones in the maternity ward?
How? By breathing them? And how far does this extend? Do women suddenly start spotting or ovulating when exposed to a baby or pregnant woman? No. Sorry; your experience was a coincidence. Coincidence does not mean causation.

quote:
I've also had a couple friends tell me that had milk let down after visiting a materity ward.
Like your wife's hairdresser's sister's roommate? [Razz]

Um. . .it's not really BS, cervus. My sister is a teacher and last summer while she was off she spent quite a lot of time here with me and my kids. In May, our periods started 8 or 9 days apart. By July, we were starting and stopping on the exact same days. It continued like that until November. Even now we start about 1 to 3 days apart. The same sort of thing has happened with a few women I'm not related to also.

*******POSSIBLY TMI FOR SOME*******

I don't know about the milk-let-down-in-a-maternity-ward-thing. I know since I've had children, whenever I hear a baby cry, my nipples sort of tighten up like I'm getting ready to nurse.

It's not purely physical - it's how a woman's mind and body work together reacting to outside influences. That's as technical as I should probably get since I'm not any kind of scientist or anything.

cynic"and I'm stepping off my soapbox now"gal

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Vivling
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by cynicgal:
Um. . .it's not really BS, cervus. My sister is a teacher and last summer while she was off she spent quite a lot of time here with me and my kids. In May, our periods started 8 or 9 days apart. By July, we were starting and stopping on the exact same days. It continued like that until November. Even now we start about 1 to 3 days apart. The same sort of thing has happened with a few women I'm not related to also.

cynic"and I'm stepping off my soapbox now"gal

Anecdote.
Not data.
etc.

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Cervus
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quote:
Um. . .it's not really BS, cervus. My sister is a teacher and last summer while she was off she spent quite a lot of time here with me and my kids. In May, our periods started 8 or 9 days apart. By July, we were starting and stopping on the exact same days. It continued like that until November. Even now we start about 1 to 3 days apart. The same sort of thing has happened with a few women I'm not related to also.
Well, this is one of those cases where I cannot believe in this phenomenon because I've never experienced it myself. Normally I don't view things this way, and am willing to believe in all sorts of things I've never personally witnessed. However, this is just not something I can believe in, for that reason. As hard as it is for me to accept that this could happen in isolated incidents, it's even more difficult for me to believe it is a naturally occuring thing that happens when women live together. Genetics, lifestyle, health, diet, all play a part in influencing a woman's cycle. Where are the studies of women who've NEVER synchronized with other women?

quote:
It's not purely physical - it's how a woman's mind and body work together reacting to outside influences.
Perhaps since I hate children, pregnancy, and anything relating to the menstrual cycle, I am subconsciously "overriding" this phenomena?

And what makes one person's anecdote more "factual" than an opposing one?

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Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Bela Drosmorr 100
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As far as menstruation cycles lining up with that of other women, I, too, have experienced it. Actually, I experience it on a fairly frequent basis.

For instance, when I spend an exceptionally long time with a certain female friend, my periods will come a few days late, finally starting on the day that she starts. The same happens with my mother and I, if I ever visit with her for an extended period of time.

As for why or how this happens, I have no idea. I have no idea why I'll be at a regular 28 days, then, should I spend more time with another woman, I hold out until 30 or even 32 days, just so I can start on the same day as them. It's a pain in the butt, though, when I'm late and starting to think I'm pregnant. [Frown]

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Crono
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The Straight Dope has several articles on the topic.

Here is an article about pheromones in general.
Here is an article written in 1986 about pheromones causing menstrual synchrony, with Martha McClintock's research being the primary evidence. According to this article, menstrual synchrony probably does happen.
Here is a more recent (2002) article that takes another look at menstrual synchrony and now calls it unlikely.

For what it's worth, I took a class on sensation and perception last year, and this was one issue that was discussed. According to the textbook (which was published in 2004), menstrual synchrony does happen and is, in fact, the only evidence of pheromones in humans. The teacher, who had met Martha McClintock and discussed the issue with her, also claimed it to be true. I e-mailed him the Straight Dope articles, but he didn't comment on them. Given the latest evidence (and the remedial knowledge that I have about pheromones), I'm inclined to believe that menstrual synchrony is just a misperception.

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Slainey
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quote:
Originally posted by Cervus:
quote:
I've also had a couple friends tell me that had milk let down after visiting a materity ward.
Like your wife's hairdresser's sister's roommate? [Razz]
I have neither a wife or a hairdresser. What's your point. Do you want the names of these two friends? One I've lost contact with over the years but the other one would possibly be willing to speak with you on this subject. Being around babies does odd things to my breast too.

As for the study I mentioned, it was several years ago so I dont' have the cite but McClintock's research looks close enough (there was underarm sweat involved).

All the girls in my suite in college ended the year in synch as well. Our bathroom smelled oh so lovely when that happened.

Maybe it all is just coincidence but remember we not meant to live such isolated lives. Except, of course, for Cervus.

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cynicgal
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[/QUOTE]Well, this is one of those cases where I cannot believe in this phenomenon because I've never experienced it myself. Normally I don't view things this way, and am willing to believe in all sorts of things I've never personally witnessed. However, this is just not something I can believe in, for that reason. As hard as it is for me to accept that this could happen in isolated incidents, it's even more difficult for me to believe it is a naturally occuring thing that happens when women live together. Genetics, lifestyle, health, diet, all play a part in influencing a woman's cycle. Where are the studies of women who've NEVER synchronized with other women?

Perhaps since I hate children, pregnancy, and anything relating to the menstrual cycle, I am subconsciously "overriding" this phenomena?

And what makes one person's anecdote more "factual" than an opposing one? [/QUOTE]


Not every woman's body will react the same way under the same circumstances. We're all different - to me, that's one of the really interesting things about people in general. There's a wide range of what is considered "normal".

I don't believe I ever tried to say that my personal experience made it "factual". That's exactly what it is - personal experience. If this particular thing hasn't happened to you, Cervus, then alright. Neither one of us is a freak. We're just in that wide range of normal, ya know?

cynic"most likely entirely too opinionated for my own good"gal

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cynicgal
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quote:
Originally posted by Crono:
The Straight Dope has several articles on the topic.

Here is an article about pheromones in general.
Here is an article written in 1986 about pheromones causing menstrual synchrony, with Martha McClintock's research being the primary evidence. According to this article, menstrual synchrony probably does happen.
Here is a more recent (2002) article that takes another look at menstrual synchrony and now calls it unlikely.

For what it's worth, I took a class on sensation and perception last year, and this was one issue that was discussed. According to the textbook (which was published in 2004), menstrual synchrony does happen and is, in fact, the only evidence of pheromones in humans. The teacher, who had met Martha McClintock and discussed the issue with her, also claimed it to be true. I e-mailed him the Straight Dope articles, but he didn't comment on them. Given the latest evidence (and the remedial knowledge that I have about pheromones), I'm inclined to believe that menstrual synchrony is just a misperception.

Dude, if you had a uterus, I may be inclined to give credence to your idea that menstrual synchrony is "just a misperception".
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mrs.hi-c clown fishies
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It happened with one of my girlfriends and me. We spent considerable time together, and after a few months our periods synched up. It was funny, because she kept thinking she was pregnant, when her cycle was a few days off. I'm on the pill, so mine starts like clockwork. She isn't and it was like her period was waiting up for mine.

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Four Kitties
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Happened to me three times, when I was living in the dorm. Freshman year, my roommate and I were synched within two months. Sophomore year I had two roommates, we were synched within three months. Junior year I was in a single on a tiny hall with four other women also in singles, and the five of us were also synched within three months.

Four Kitties

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Cervus
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quote:
Originally posted by Slainey:
Being around babies does odd things to my breast too.

Like what? How? Are you sure it's not a psychological thing? I'm honestly asking, because again, this is not something that I've ever experienced, and not something that logically makes sense to me.

I do apologize for my snarky tone in my posts from last night. Now that I go back and read them, I realize that I sound rather confrontational. That's what I get for staying up too late and posting while stressed. But the skepticism remains, and I have yet to read a posting here that satisfies my question.

I really am dumbfounded at the experiences everyone's posted, and while I am not denying that these things happened to you, it is still hard for me to believe this is a natural phenomenon. How would being around children or menstruating or lactating women have any physiological effect on another woman? Psychologically, I can see that, especially if your mindset is tuned towards your own fertility. But these anecdotes, and even this one study that's been linked to, are just not adding up for me.

Cynicgal to Crono:
quote:
Dude, if you had a uterus, I may be inclined to give credence to your idea that menstrual synchrony is "just a misperception".
So how come I, who have a uterus and a properly functioning reproductive system, am not given the same credence? Earlier I did ask for studies of women who haven't synchronized with other women. Are there any studies? Ms. McLintock's studied 135 women. Women have posted their personal experiences here. However, that's only a small fraction of the female population. So I just want to know how common it is to NOT synchronize with a woman you've spent lots of time around.

Again, the whole concept doesn't seem logical to me - especially the part about your breasts tingling or even lactating after being exposed to pregnant women or babies.

--------------------
"There is no constitutional right to sleep with endangered reptiles." -- Carl Hiaasen
Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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Slainey
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I have the worst time of it when I'm holding an infant and they start to root. There is definatly a psychological/psychosomatic componant because I can feel a shadow of the reaction just sitting here thinking about it. These stupid things are for feeding babies. They'd really like to do their job!

It's always difficult to prove a negative in this case a lack of synchronization. My roommate and I the last year of school never synchronized but we were on seperate floors of the house and usually used seperate bathrooms. She also had really bad endometriosis.

I can think of a couple evolutionary reasons why hormone synchronization might be good. I'm just guessing though. 1. The more women bleeding together means the less likey an individual menstrant would be picked off by a predator. 2. With synched cycles women are more likey to have their kids around the same time. Yes, they're competing for resources but they also have more mothers to care and possibly feed each other's children.

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cynicgal
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Cervus - please read my post that was right before my response to Crono. You're being given plenty of credence because I believe you when you say that this particular phenomenon hasn't occurred with you. I wouldn't try to tell a man how it feels to get kicked in the NFBSKs. I don't understand why men with only "remedial knowledge" feel it neccessary to share opinions about female reproductive system issues.

The fact remains that there are some women who experience synched cycles and some who do not. I have never presumed to know how common either situation is. All I know is that synched cycles happen for some women and don't for others. All part of that "wide range of normal".

cynicgal

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Morrigan
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It happens with dogs, so I wouldn't doubt it if it happened with humans.

Out of three female's that I have (at my house), they bring each other in every 6 months, with the dominate bitch bringing the other 2 in.

I've heard that that's the case with humans, too. That the dominante woman will bring in the subordinate, although I don't know how reliable that is.

Morrigan

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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Slainey:
I have the worst time of it when I'm holding an infant and they start to root. There is definatly a psychological/psychosomatic componant because I can feel a shadow of the reaction just sitting here thinking about it. These stupid things are for feeding babies. They'd really like to do their job!

What is not mentioned in your original post about letdown is whether or not those women who experienced it were mothers or not -- it seems to me that it would be something along the lines of a learned reaction to simulus thing for women who had done it before. I know I'm getting that tightening feeling just thinking/writing about it now, so it seems quite reasonable to me. But do we know, even anecdotally, if the breast reaction has occurred in women who have never been pregnant/given birth?

Four Kitties

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Posts: 13275 | From: Kindergarten World, Massachusetts | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Die Capacitrix
We Three Blings


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Anybody interested in another anecdote? I was always regular - 27.5 days. During my second semester senior year in college, I started birth control pills. So my period was even more regular.

My three roommates synced with me. I did not change, they did. One of my roommates had very irregular periods - she even synced with me for a few months. I wonder if it is the sharing the bathroom (someone already mentioned the smell) that instigates the synchronization (if it does exist).

Based on my anecdote, there may be those who are more susceptible to menstrual synchrony.

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"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces." Judith Viorst

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Slainey
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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The two women I mentioned earlier were not mothers and not pregnant at the time.
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Four Kitties
Layaway in a Manger


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Wacky.

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If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

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Danny the Street
Ceylon Sailor


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quote:
Originally posted by Cervus:
... each is statistically independent, and no woman's menstruation is going to cause another woman to menstruate as well.

I'm not sure I understand this. Clearly, from what we've read on this thread, there is at least some weak research suggesting this might be a legitimate phenomenon. Even if there were no proof at all, how does abundant unscientific anecdotal evidence + lack of scientific proof = proof that the phenomenon does NOT exist?


quote:
Do women suddenly start spotting or ovulating when exposed to a baby or pregnant woman? No. Sorry; your experience was a coincidence. Coincidence does not mean causation.
Of course not -- in fact, by definition, it means virtually the opposite. But "coincidence" is your word. One person's experience, or even thousands of people's experiences, can easily be coincidence. But just the fact that one person, or thousands, have had an experience does not automatically make the experiences coincidental or categorically rule out causation.

What if the reality is more complex? Most scientists agree that smoking can cause lung cancer. But then, some people smoke well into old age without apparent harm. Does this prove that all evidence linking smoking and lung cancer is "coincidence" and mere anecdote? Or could some people be more susceptible to cancer for some reason, or others be less susceptible?

I don't necessarily agree that phenomena with no apparent cause should be automatically deemed "coincidence" and dismissed. So many times science has discovered a reproducible cause for a phenomenon that was once thought inexplicable, simply because at that time there was no known explanation. And endocrinology is still very much an evolving science. So much is still not understood; it doesn't seem justified to say that if there is no explanation handy, then an anecdotally observed endocrinological phenomenon must be labeled "coincidence."

In short: In my book, absence of evidence does not automatically equal evidence of absence. YBMV (Your Book May Vary).

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Danny the Street
Ceylon Sailor


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Oh, I should mention for the record: I have experienced menstrual synchrony more than once. I observed that when I was not on the pill, my cycles and the other women's all sort of drifted together; when I was on the pill, the cycles of the other women drifted toward my fixed cycle.

Right, I know: Yes, it could certainly be coincidence. Take it for what it is: another anecdote in the growing pile.

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Danny the Street
Ceylon Sailor


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Sorry for the three-in-a-row posts, but after I posted that last one, I remembered reading about a study that showed that male sweat improved women's moods. (Another phenomenon that this female has experienced herself. [Wink] )

Here's a summary, and here's the full-text article from the journal Biology of Reproduction, for the scientifically inclined. Since the topic is pheromones, there's some discussion in the article about the research into menstrual synchronization, beginning in the third paragraph of the introduction. It looks like there's more scientific evidence than I thought.

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