Combatting Period Brain

For the uninitiated, first thing’s first: you are not uninitiated. Maybe you’ve never identified your condition as “period brain,” but trust me, you’ve experienced at least a handful of the symptoms that emerge at the helm of menstruation for at least a week every month. Unless, of course, you haven’t, which might mean you’re pregnant, so…congratulations!

The symptoms in question are occasionally revealed as relentless fatigue. No matter what time you went to bed the night before or how fulfilling and satisfying your night’s dream may have been, the following morning blows chunks of disappointment.

Often, too, these symptoms are presented as inexplicable anger. I’ve been known to bang my head against a wooden surface should I come to learn I forgot to buy paper towels.

You might also cry. At the sight of a puppy. Or your mom. Or while watching Julie & Julia.


Or you might not. You might simply face the most acute of your period’s symptoms and for a week every month feel stupid. Hugely idiotic. There is a bright side though, and that is the satisfaction that comes with finally realizing that you are not dumbing down with age or because you watch too much Bravo TV. Your brain — the matter on which your opinions and therefore identity is founded — is simply in a temporary (keyword, people) prison cell being run by your ovaries.

But then again, understanding that doesn’t make it go away. I’ve been suffering period brain for as long as my eggs have been dropping and as far as I can remember, I all but waltzed through the walls of my education, tampon in tow. Today, I near contemplate suicide during that one nefarious week when I stare my computer in the face and it blankly stares back and we have nothing to exchange. No. Thing.

I have, as a result, committed myself to combatting period brain and these five methods are the ones I am trying.

1. Read stuff you probably wouldn’t read if you were just trying to relax. Like Dostoevsky. Just kidding — but try a news publication that might be denser than what you’re used to. I like to think this will force your mind to start breaking out of the aforementioned jail cell and formulate new opinions that are informed and temporal, thus making your conversations better.

2. Hang out with smart people. Talk to them. This will challenge you to process their inflections and likely even retort where necessary because it’s rude to remain silent if someone asks you a question.

3. Listen to NPR. Or Oh Boy. Or Monocycle. My friend Lara is really good at passing along the most valuable of the This American Life loot. If you give me your e-mail address, I will see to it that you and lady menses over there are placed on this e-mail chain.

4. Listen to NPR while you’re exercising. You won’t feel the burn as saliently and you’ll probably start enunciating your words better.

5. Just exercise. It releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy so even if this doesn’t aid your period brain, at least you’ll be too happy to feel dumb. It’s true what they say, you know? That ignorance is bliss.

Also, though, I once saw a diagram displaying a brain that was seated on a couch next to one that had been walking for twenty minutes and the latter one was all red a.k.a on fire as opposed to the former one which was yellow a.k.a mucus. I’m making these descriptive properties up but you get the point, right? How do you combat period brain?

Image via Vogue Italia.


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  • Caroline

    1. Bread (specifically in the form of croissants)
    2. Read Man Repeller as to not hurt anyone in the general vicinity around me
    3. Macarons!
    4. Deep breaths… Lots of them
    5. Secret Pinterest boards? Yes, they help.

    • Annie M.

      Caroline, we share the same remedies. The power of the secret Pinterest board is undervalued in my opinion. I’d like to add one more:
      6. Pinkberry Froyo

      • Y’all. So on. Can we just add… 7. Red wine in glass. 8. Comfort Spaniel in lap. <3

  • Esther

    What about exercising while listening to NPR and watching Bravo TV on mute to combat the drone?

  • bebehobbs

    chocolate…lots & lots of chocolate…and then more chocolate

  • Ruthy Castillo

    1. The Cooking Channel
    2. Bloglovin- Man Repeller, Margaret Zhang
    3. Net-a Porter
    4. Sushi
    5. Frozen yogurt with tons of Mocchi and Mango
    5. Lots of Rap, Hip-hop, Beyonce( Drake,Jay-z,etc)

  • francesca

    after pouring orange juice in my cereal one morning and more recently leaving a jar of peanut butter in the sink thinking it was the pantry, i have come to terms with the wackiness that is period brain. i will say this, editing my master’s thesis certainly keeps it at bay. although, it doesn’t alleviate the terrible case of sleepies that come with pms.

  • NPR is great for sounding knowledgeable & updated on current events. :] // ☼

  • Lovey Fleming

    Oh I am a complete monster when this time runs around. My friends and family know to stay faaaarrrr away as to not get randomly assaulted by my fiery tongue or claws!
    You’re experiences made me laugh so hard <3
    Thanks love I hope this helps next time! xoxo

  • B.

    Are you reading my mind Leandra? Who am I kidding, don’t you always?
    My period brain is currently and has held me hostage for a week for as long as I can remember. I’ve come to accept it. I am inexplicably angry, inexplicably hungry, and you know.. just lazy (I actually watched OITNB season 2, in its entirety, in like.. a day).
    1. Tell my dramatic, unreasonable, impractical thoughts to my mother, because she understands.
    2. Get really dressed, because a good outfit can make a bad attitude/day a little better.
    3. Headphones in the workplace if you can.
    4. Exercise
    5. Haagen Dazs
    6. Brownies


  • My dream job is to work/write for This American Life. The show has so much sentimental value because I’d always be in the car with my family coming back from a camping trip when it was on. My parents laughing and crying in the front seat, and me trying to hear the stories as my brothers were playing cards so loudly. Strange when so young to learn about love and loss and sex and life from such a remote place. It has meaning but at the age you’re just not sure what yet, but it’s still enough to make you FEEL.

    My mom and I always say that there’s an NPR segment and/or show that we can place with every major life event we’ve mutually experienced.

  • Combatting period brain is almost as difficult as combatting period boobs. So cute to know that so many of us on here are on the same cycle. SISTAHS!

    • jemima

      but i love my period boobs. it’s the only time i have boobs.

  • frau musgrave

    Good luck being with pregnant in the future!

  • Kelly Eason

    Excellent Post!

  • Melissa

    I too suffer from brain of the month. I think the seething rage is the worst but the fatigue and the lack of creativitiy don’t exactly help either. As a person with three kids though that had terrible morning sickness all three times, period brain beats being pregnant.

  • Tamara

    hahaha wait until you experience pregnancy brain! it makes period brain feel like mensa! and then…mother of an infant brain! fast forward to mother of teenagers brain! enjoy your smarts now ladies! read good books, go to art museums, go to the opera. i was really smart before i had kids…

  • Alison Brown Donlan

    loved this very much and all of the comments below

  • Morgan

    JUST started my period today. I wanted to rip some throats out, but now I am on MR and see that my love Dostoevsky has been given another shout out! I feel better now.

  • Loooooong past period brain, but I remember. I feel your pain, and this is funny.

  • Amelia Pita

    – Being mad at someone I really love (and I know won’t stop loving back after that lol)
    – Riding the bike
    – Watching lame movies so as to release every TPM tears and then be able to move on for the rest of the week
    – Sugar diet !

  • Naomi

    this is perfect

  • Sugar Magnolia Wilson

    1. Do nothing. The end.