When I Sync ... You Sync ... We Sync
I grew up in a household of four women who seemed to all come on their periods around the same time, every month. Every one of us, myself included, started our cycles at nine years old. I felt inherently cursed. It was not a club I enjoyed being a member of at such a young age. I interviewed several girlfriends who also grew up in, and/or are currently living in, female-dominated environments. They tell stories of similar experiences.
Shaa, mother and daughter
“I can't remember that far back, but I can tell you that in my household now, for some reason mother nature won't allow my period and my daughter’s periods to synchronize. I notice that when our cycles do line up for one month, the next month one of us is late, so we will no longer be on the same cycle. It is the weirdest thing. Sometimes, instead of being bitches on alternate weeks, we're bitches at the same time. I think it's God's way of giving my husband a break.” 😂😂😂😂
Sheila, college administrator
“In the workplace, I had an executive director who worked with all women in Housing and Residence Life [and] who kept bite-size chocolates on his desk. After a few years, I learned he didn’t even like chocolate. I asked about his dedication in keeping the jar full. He said he became aware that at a certain time of the month his executive staff—including myself—would be unusually high strung and it helped him deal with us. Chocolate apparently kept us calm.”
Shay, two sisters, mom
“Yes, eventually once we all started, we did sync up a few times. It wasn’t terrible in regards to PMS or hormones/emotions. Everyone kinda stayed to themselves reading, watching TV, or sleeping. We all had a fair amount of cramps that kept us on edge.”
In a January 23, 2019, article titled “Period Syncing: Real Phenomenon or Popular Myth?” Kathryn Watson writes, “Period syncing is also known as ‘menstrual synchrony’ and ‘the McClintock effect.’ It’s based on the theory that when you come in physical contact with another person who menstruates, your pheromones influence each other so that eventually, your monthly cycles line up.”
The idea of period syncing has been passed down from mothers to their daughters and discussed in dorms and women’s restrooms for centuries. But the scientific community started to take the idea seriously when a researcher named Martha McClintock conducted a study of 135 college women living in a dorm together to see if their menstrual cycles aligned.
The study didn’t test other cycle factors, like when the women ovulated, but it did track when the women’s monthly bleeding began. McClintock concluded that the women’s periods were, indeed, syncing up. After that, period syncing was referred to as the “McClintock effect.”
However, Watson asserts, “With the invention of period tracking apps that store digital records of women’s cycles, there’s a lot more data available now to understand if period syncing is real. And the new research doesn’t support McClintock’s original conclusion.”
Current studies conclude there’s no real proof of period synchronization. Myth or not, the experience of menstrual cycles still gives the women in my household plenty to bond over.
By: CaSaundra Ce’Moune