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Time to Quit Smoking. Period.

Time to Quit Smoking. Period.

Pliny, the Roman scholar wrote in his Natural History: “Contact with the monthly flux of women turns new wine sour, makes crops wither, kills grafts, dries seeds in gardens, causes the fruit of trees to fall off, dims the bright surface of mirrors” …and it goes on and on. But while we’re able to dismiss such unscientific hogwash, modern science is discovering that a woman’s menstrual cycle does have a profound influence on her wellbeing and can even be used to help her stop smoking.

A study published in the Biology of Sex suggests that the reason women have a harder time stopping smoking than men do is because they try to give it up at the wrong time of the month. Researchers found that from day 1 until ovulation, when levels of the hormone progesterone are low, women are apt to have heightened brain activity that stimulates the desire for reward and cigarette cravings increase. That may also be why quitters relapse more often during that time. But in the days after ovulation until the next period, it appears women may be more likely to quit smoking successfully; higher progesterone levels may reduce cravings.

More research needs to be done, but in the meantime, if you’re a woman struggling with quitting—here’s one more trick to try! And whether it works for you because the findings reflect how your body works or as a placebo, who cares? The important thing is that you stop smoking.

Medically reviewed in January 2019.

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