It’s a common gag that women don’t think quite the same they get their period. But according to neuroscientists in Taiwan, in some women menstruation may change the very structure of the brain.
In an MRI study of 32 women who suffer menstrual cramps and 32 similar women without pain — with members of the two groups matched on age and menstrual cycle — the researchers uncovered significant brain differences even when the cramp sufferers were not in pain. Among the pain group:
Abnormal [grey-matter] decreases were found in regions involved in pain transmission, higher level sensory processing, and affected regulation, while increases were found in regions involved in pain modulation and in regulation of endocrine function.
It is not yet clear how those structural differences may affect brain function. The findings are published in the September issue of PAIN.