Menstrual cycle influences concussion outcomes
How well a woman recovers from a concussion may depend on that time of the month. Researchers found that women injured during the two weeks leading up to their period (the pre-menstrual phase) had a slower recovery and poorer health one month after injury compared to women injured during the two weeks directly after their period or women taking birth control pills.
If confirmed in subsequent research, the findings could alter the treatment and prognosis of women who suffer head injuries from sports, falls, car accidents or combat.
Several recent studies have confirmed what women and their physicians anecdotally have known for years: Women experience greater cognitive decline, poorer reaction times, more headaches, extended periods of depression, longer hospital stays and delayed return-to-work compared to men following head injury. Such results are particularly pronounced in women of childbearing age; girls who have not started their period and post-menopausal women have outcomes similar to men.
Few studies have explored why such differences occur, but senior author Jeffrey J. Bazarian, M.D., M.P.H. says it stands to reason that sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, which are highest in women of childbearing age, may play a role.