Your period cycle might dictate your motivation levels — unless you’re on the pill, according to a new study. 

Have you noticed that your motivation has flatlined? While the cost of living crisis and other stressful situations might be to blame for feeling a bit off, new research suggests your menstrual cycle also has a huge impact on your motivation – especially for those of us on the pill.  

The study, by researchers from the University of Melbourne, found that women with natural cycles are more driven around the time of ovulation; women on the pill, on the other hand, don’t experience the same spike. 

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To reach this conclusion, researchers studied 278 women, 192 of which were on some form of hormonal contraception (74% used the combined oral contraceptive pill, while others used contraceptives including the implant and the patch) while the others had natural cycles. 

For at least 28 days, all the women answered daily surveys on factors including their mood, self-objectification and, crucially, competitiveness, measured by four ‘orientations’ including how self-competitive and competitive with others they felt.

Researchers found that those who had natural periods experienced a mid-cycle increase in self-development competitiveness – a trait related to achievement, motivation and success by improving personal skills and abilities. 

Those on contraception didn’t have that spike, and they were also less hyper-competitive (meaning less driven to compete) and more likely to lack interest in competition. Overall, women on hormonal contraceptives had ​​six times less motivational drive than women who cycled naturally. 

Motivation for self-improvement activities spiked during ovulation – except in those who were on the pill

It’s interesting news for those who have cycles, helping them harness their motivation when it peaks but also explaining why they may not always feel at their most driven. The research supports previous theories that we are more likely to be motivated and energised when we ovulate, an evolutionary development designed to help us find a mate while we are most fertile.

But the news is less exciting for those who use hormonal contraceptives. It’s expected that contraceptive users experience less fluctuations in mood and emotions throughout the month as their hormones remain static rather than cycle through phases. But this study shows that motivation doesn’t just maintain somewhere around the middle – it appears to be flat at all times throughout the month. 

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While there’s no research on the health implications of this lack of competitive drive, the study’s authors pointed out that in the modern world, losing that competitive edge has repercussions further than just our ability to find a partner or be productive at work. 

“Engaging in competitive situations provides women with a host of benefits that are only available to those willing to compete against others. For example, achieving gender equality requires that men and women compete for access to the same resources,” they write.

Being on hormonal contraceptives is a personal choice, and for many women, they work brilliantly well to regulate cycles, improve mood or skin and end worries about pregnancy. If you’re worried about the impact of your contraceptive, it’s always best to talk with your doctor. 

Images: Getty

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