Quitting smoking is one of the suckiest experiences ever, right up there with having to work late and switching to decaf. And not only is quitting harder for women than it is for men, new research suggests that women are at a higher risk of addiction thanks to — drumroll, please — our period.Yep, menses strike again: A new study by Adrianna Mendrek of the University of Montreal has revealed our menstrual cycle may impact nicotine cravings, and that urges to smoke are strongest at the beginning of the follicular phase (otherwise known as phase one, when your ovarian follicles prep to release an egg). “Hormonal decreases of estrogen and progesterone possibly deepen withdrawal and increase activity of the neural circuits associated with cravings,” Mendrek said in a statement.Researchers worked with 34 men and women who each smoke more than 15 cigarettes daily. The subjects filled out questionnaires and underwent MRI brain scans, which were taken while they looked at either everyday snapshots or ones designed to make them want to smoke. The women were scanned twice: Once at the beginning of the follicular phase and then again midway through the luteal phase (the final phase of the menstrual cycle). Their estrogen and progesterone levels were also measured.While there were no significant differences between men and women as far as their neural circuits were concerned, this was not the case when the women were on their period: The strength of their nicotine cravings fluctuated as their hormones did. Cravings were strongest during phase one and tapered off by the final phase.Mendrek believes it may be easier for women to overcome the nerve-wracking withdrawal symptoms after ovulation, when their levels of estrogen and progesterone are elevated. “Taking the menstrual cycle into consideration could help women to stop smoking,” Mendrek said. But that doesn’t mean syncing your cig detox with your period will make quitting all kittens and rainbows. Every woman is unique, as are her reasons for lighting up in the first place — and none of those reasons can be ignored, since your plan to quit will have to be just as unique.It took me 5,326 attempts before I became 100 percent smoke-free, but I have been now for over two years. For me, the patch finally did the trick (and changing my entire personal life, but that’s a soap opera for another day). For you, it might be sweating it out, changing your diet, hypnosis, or a combination of all three. But there’s only one thing all ex-smokers have in common: They didn’t give up. Neither can you.
Science: Wait Until After Your Period to Start the Nicotine Withdrawal