- Name: Lonnie Bruner
- Location: Washington, DC, United States
I live in DC, sail the Chesapeake Bay, have a lovely wife who's a web designer, a young son, an unruly hound dog, and am interested in most everything in the world. Oh yea, and I love the smell of burning trash in the Third World. That just gets me going.
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Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Arguing against menstrual synchony in a hot tub with three ladies.
This weekend I got drunk in hot tub with three lovely ladies and all I could talk about was the fact that female menstrual synchony is a complete myth.
There's no way to win. Imagine me -- someone who does not menstruate -- taking on these three in a duel on the science of menstruation. What the fuck was I thinking.
And here's me, duking it out like an idiot:
But that doesn't make me any less correct. In fact, women who live together do NOT begin to synchronize their menstrual periods.
In this article put out by the University of Michigan, the scientists found that " ... there is scant empirical evidence that the phenomenon of menstrual synchrony exists."
But most women will protest this fact, saying they've experienced simultaneous periods when they live with other women. Complete bullshit, say the researchers.
"Popular belief in menstrual synchrony stems from a misperception about how far apart menstrual onsets should be for two women whose onsets are independent. Given a cycle length of 28 days (not the rule—but an example), the maximum that two women can be out of phase is 14 days. On average, the onsets will be 7 days apart. Fully half the time they should be even closer. Given that menstruation often lasts 5 days, it is not surprising that friends commonly experience overlapping menses, which is taken as personal confirmation of menstrual synchrony."Even though I should have shut my damned mouth and enjoyed the drunken jacuzzi, the words "I told you so" never felt so good.
But here's the Straight Dope -
Currently the opposing camps are duking it out in the journals. (See the September 2002 Journal of Comparative Psychology for the latest irruption.) I won't say the prosynchrony crowd is out of the game, but right now it's third and long.
If you don't trust Cecil who do you trust?
I have the University of Michigan on my side, which includes the current scientific consensus on this issue. You, my friend, have anecdotes. ;-)
"Popular belief in menstrual synchrony stems from a misperception about how far apart menstrual onsets should be for two women whose onsets are independent. Given a cycle length of 28 days (not the rule—but an example), the maximum that two women can be out of phase is 14 days. On average, the onsets will be 7 days apart. Fully half the time they should be even closer. Given that menstruation often lasts 5 days, it is not surprising that friends commonly experience overlapping menses, which is taken as personal confirmation of menstrual synchrony."
Let me give you a little primer on how peer-reviewed science functions:
Scientists research something based on previous and new research. The most recent research takes into account EVERYTHING that was done before it; new research would be useless if it didn't.
In the case of menstrual synchrony, the U of M research is some of the latest on the subject and they found that " ... there is scant empirical evidence that the phenomenon of menstrual synchrony exists." -- based on EVERYTHING that had been researched on the subject prior. It's not like they just wrote the study and neglected three decades of research already done!
All the other research done dates back to the early 1970s, and it's on the way out because the evidence is very weak.
That's how science works, my friend. When old theories get proved wrong, they get slowly abandoned --- and menstrual synchrony is limping toward that ash heap.
I'd also recommend the article a while back in The Straight Dope where they say that, "I won't say the prosynchrony crowd is out of the game, but right now it's third and long."
As far as I read, you have one professor's findings to use as evidence. I'm not sure that professor is necessarily on your side, nor am I convinced that you have UM on your side.
In order for me to accept your claim that you have the University of Michigan on your side, I'm going to have to see a note from UM. Otherwise, according to your logic, I have the Universtity of Chicago FIRMLY on my side, with this published work:
(also, in case you want to check the book out of a library)
McClintock, M.K., (1971). Menstrual synchrony and supression. Nature,
The NIH fully on my side: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=391505
And I have the Penn State partially on my side: http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2002/10/10-08-02tdc/10-08-02dscihealth-03.asp
CNN is not on my side or yours, rather they categorize the issue as an example of "a gap in our knowledge" http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/women/9906/25/sexuality.scent/
Oxford says the issue "merits skeptism" (but does not disprove it, only offers this quote (paraphrased in the Michigan "finding"):
'Popular belief in menstrual synchrony stems from a misperception about how far apart menstrual onsets should be for two women whose onsets are independent. Given a cycle length of 28 days (not the rule—but an example), the maximum that two women can be out of phase is 14 days. On average, the onsets will be 7 days apart. Fully half the time they should be even closer (Wilson, 1992; Strassmann, 1997). Given that menstruation often lasts 5 days, it is not surprising that friends commonly experience overlapping menses, which is taken as personal confirmation of menstrual synchrony.'
And really that brings me to another point. All this scoffing around and calling the evidence anecdotal rather than empirical. My christ, do these reserchers really think we little gals don't know the difference between their cycle overlapping a day or two by coincidence or due to the nature of menstrual cycles and one's period packing up a moving truck and relocating two weeks off track?
Anecdotal evidence, if recorded with proper clinical trials and controls, can soon become "empirical," by most standards.
So before you take one finding and dismiss something that many, many women experience, and then claim that you've got UM on your side (then give us a "science lesson" about the peer review process in one paragraph and then cite a finding by, of all laypersons things, "the straight dope" in the next paragraph for heavens sake!), maybe you should research your subject a li'l bit more.
the U of M does not have the only or even last word on the subject. Seems to me, after fair review of all the published findings I could get my grubby li'l hands on in the past 25 minutes (true scientific research, google style) that the jury's still out.
Sorry kiddo, you aren't right here, at least, not according to all equally weighted scientific sources. That said, neither am I, or the ladies. But just like the dealer wins a push in blackjack, I'm gonna give this one to the ladies. After all, since you don't shed your uterine lining once every 28 days, I'm gonna have to say you don't know what you're talking about.
BTW, my pal pete, I never knew you were such a misogynist.
If you're in a hot tub with three dykes, shouldn't you be talking about scoring pussy, and not the plasma dripping from it anyway?
1 - The Martha McClintock studies are famous. But notice: her research dates from the early 1970s --- not exactly cutting edge.
2 - That PNAS article isn't even about menstrual synchrony and dates from 1985! Old news. Look at the latest research and it's generally on my side. That's the beauty of science: it's a battle of evidence outweighing evidence until one pile is larger than the other and theories change.
3 - You are correct that there is still legitimate debate on this issue. The synchrony crowd presents evidence and should not be dismissed outright like proponents of Intelligent Design (who have zero evidence) or some other pseudoscience. However, the case for menstrual synchrony is losing the battle of evidence; simple statistics are a mountain next to the molehill of synchrony. And there's still debate whether human pheromones even exist!
4 - Personally, I think this is a case of "remembering the hits, but not the misses". When women menstruate at the same or nearly the same time, they tend to remember it. However, when they DON'T synchronize, it's easily forgotten. "Remembering the hits" is how psychics, hucksters and frauds have made their livings for hundreds of years.
it's all barry, all the time over here at red storm menstruation smackdown headquarters.
He bathed his body in a huge vat of pussy juice, menstrual blood & female tears and lived to blog about it.
I just hope his balls didn't evaporate in the hot, steamy bath.
"People in general don't let the truth get in the way of a good argument, with women(generally) it's double. "
What do you think about the lunar cycle and menstrual cycle being so close? LB said it is because women like you are lunatics who get emotionally involved in arguments of logic. I'd like a super defensive lit review on LB's desk by tonight.
I know LB pretty well - all he wanted was to get one of you bikini babes angry enough to slap and humiliate him. and maybe spit on him.
Essentially, any debate is moot, there is no solid evidence for either viewpoint. All we know for sure is that there are chemicals in human sweat that evokes varied responses in the brain. This research is in its infancy and we are years and years away from knowing for sure what they do to the female menses cycle. It is also difficult to sift through the information since there are now companies that sell pheromone products that have a special interest in study results. I have read tons of various scientific papers and have learned that it is easy to skew statistical data to your advantage. Add that fact to the young age of the research and you have a battleground open for debates just like this one. Therefore, no one is right or wrong and anyone who takes sides is bias to their sex.
I found an excellent article which nicely summarizes the research done so far:
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And how dangerous is it to sit in a hot tub with 3 women who have their menses at the same time anyway? are you crazy?