Sorry to break it to you but period syncing is a complete MYTH
I don’t know what’s real anymore!!!
If you’ve ever lived in a house with more than one girl, you’ll have heard talk of “periods syncing up”. Even the most scientifically minded people believe it, because “what are the chances”! Then there’s the inevitable “can periods sync?”, “I think they can!”, “maybe it’s because of hormones”, “or pheromones!” convo. Everyone wants to believe it a bit, mainly because it’s quite nice to be going through it at the same time as your girl mates. You’re all a bit more irritable but you understand why, you all want to watch absolute trash on Netflix without explaining yourself, and you are all inexplicably horny as well as simultaneously finding yourselves physically disgusting. It’s a hectic week, but it’s nicer when you don’t have to do it alone.
For a long time, people have thought period synchronicity was a real thing. That it was caused by pheromones, activated by two girls being around each other so much that when one of them gets their period their pheromones cause the other woman to also start her period. Seems a little bit animal kingdom-y but also like something we’d have been burned at the stake for not too long ago. But a lot of people seriously believed it.
Until now. We spoke to Dr Elesha Vooght, who specialises in sexual wellness, to see if she could explain period synchronicity and its… legitness. Turns out it’s not very legitness.
Can periods sync? Like, for real?
Dr Vooght told The Tab: “The idea of syncing periods, or ‘menstrual synchrony’, first appeared in the 70s after a study was published in Nature, a highly respected science journal. This study suggested that pheromones, the unconscious chemicals our bodies produce to influence behaviour, could play a role but they could not prove it.
“They believed that groups of womxn being exposed to each other’s pheromones for prolonged periods of time could result in all their periods drifting to occur in the same short time frame.”
However, this was just one study. “Since then,” Dr Vooght explains, “multiple studies have taken place to try and establish the truth behind this. They have considered whether it is due to a psychological need for a ‘group’ that influences our physiology, some have even suggested that the lunar cycle could be the culprit. However, all further research has demonstrated that this initial study was highly flawed and that there appears to be no evidence of synchrony…at all!”
So there you have it! Every study since has shown a lack of synchronicity, and the only basis we had for periods syncing up in the first place was one study from the 70s which has been debunked over and over again. But why do we so desperately WISH periods syncing up were real, so much so that we overlook the science? And how can we explain the sheer coincidence of syncing up with our gals time and time again?
Why do we like to think periods can sync?
“Human psyche appears to constantly crave a ‘reason’ or link between things,” Dr Vooght says. “That could be why we notice so-called synced up periods. We are expecting it to be there, so our clever minds can make multiple unrelated events seem all intimately connected, such as having a period at a vaguely similar time! It would be reasonable to expect it in some ways as we do see it in multiple animal species, to aid the raising of young and empowering the alpha-male of a group *urgh*, but we have no clear evidence of this occurring in humans. In fact, having synced up periods could be detrimental to the human species as it would increase competition for the most viable mates.”
“It’s purely down to chance,” Dr Vooght confirms, “and the fact that periods can vary on a monthly basis, that we see overlap with the other significant womxn in our life. This could be a good thing though, as by noticing each other’s periods, it means we are opening up the conversation around menstrual health and hopefully encourages us to look after one another.”
So maybe they don’t exist, maybe they don’t scientifically or evolutionarily make any sense, but discussing “syncing up” with your mates will always be fun, and at least it gives you an outlet to talk about your blood and hormones – which God knows we need to be more accepting of. So keep speaking to your mates about it, and have a bloody good period!
For more information on periods or if you are experiencing any distress during your period, visit the NHS website.