10th August 2016
Do women believe in menstrual synchrony?
'Demystifying Menstrual Synchrony: Women’s Subjective Beliefs About Bleeding in Tandem With Other Women,' an article recently published in Women’s Reproductive Health, addresses the overlooked issue of why many women believe in menstrual synchrony. While there is a substantial body of scientific work on whether or not menstrual synchrony exists, far less work has examined why women believe in menstrual synchrony and the reasons they attribute to its existence. While there is empirical uncertainty as to the existence of menstrual synchrony, the results from this study reveal that women overwhelmingly endorse its occurrence.
For this study, author Breanne Fahs examined qualitative narratives from semi-structured interviews with 20 US women with diverse backgrounds in order to examine their beliefs about menstrual synchrony. The narratives illuminated four main themes and showcased the powerful complexities of how women make sense of the myths and meanings of their menstrual cycles. The themes that emerged from these interviews throw light on women’s beliefs regarding menstrual synchrony — and how these beliefs might be empowering — for example, menstrual synchrony as a source of emotional connection with other women; menstrual synchrony as “magical” or “mysterious” and as biological and animal-like; as well as menstrual synchrony as a source of collective solidarity.
In Fahs’ words, “The results of the present study point to women's need for more social spaces to feel solidarity with each other, to express collective anger, to feel connected to the magical and scientific aspects of their bodily existence, and to reckon with the patriarchal scripts of women's competition and dominance over each other. Menstrual synchrony is one of the only spaces where women can claim — “out loud” — positive female-bonding experiences through menstruation.”