Shopping is an absolute pleasure for many of us. And how easy has it become to have almost anything your heart desires with online shopping. Not to mention same day deliveries for some stores.
Now think about it from your own perspective. Do you find yourself browsing stores online whilst relaxing, watching tv, listening to music, or even riding the bus? Is it a fun experience for you to wander through shopping malls or boutiques?
Or how about having lunch or dinner with your nearest and dearest. Is that a special time for you to socialize without a care in the world?
And when you need something specific — online or offline, do you shop intentionally? Looking at things with a keen eye before committing to buy?
All of these scenarios are common and indeed mostly pleasurable. But there’s usually a rational voice in one’s head that brings them to reason.
“I can’t actually afford this,” “Maybe I should skip eating out and cook something,” “I don’t really need another summer dress.”
But have you found that your spending habits are a bit more impulsive or excessive during certain times of your cycle? It’s not all in your head…
Yes! One’s menstrual cycle does affect their spending habits. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Allow us to explain…
We looked at several studies to find out the phenomenon of why women tend to spend more money during different times of their cycle. We also dug deeper to find out what they wanted to spend their money on and when.
But before we dive into these studies, let’s understand the basics of the menstrual cycle…
The four phases of the menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is divided into four phases:
- Menstrual phase
- Follicular phase
- Ovulation phase
- Luteal phase
Each phase is different, and each serves a purpose in the preparation of a pregnancy.
The menstrual phase is the first of the four phases and it is when one has their monthly period.
It begins when an egg from a previous cycle hasn’t been fertilized, causing hormones such as estrogen and progesterone to drop.
During this phase the lining of the uterus is thick in preparation for pregnancy. But because an egg was not fertilized, it will shed through the vagina in the form of a period.
The follicular phase usually lasts for about 16 days and begins on the first day of your period and ends when you begin to ovulate. This means there is an overlap between the menstrual phase and the follicular phase.
During this phase, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is released. This hormone stimulates the ovaries to produce 5-20 small sacs called follicles, and with each follicle comes an immature egg. The healthiest egg will then mature, resulting in a surge of estrogen which creates a suitable environment for an embryo to grow.
During the ovulation phase luteinizing hormone (LT) is released which kickstarts ovulation.
During this phase, an egg travels to the fallopian tube towards the uterus to be fertilized by sperm. If it is not fertilized, it will die or dissolve.
In this phase hormones are released that keep the lining of the uterus thick in an attempt to be ready for a fertilized egg to implant.
If one doesn’t become pregnant, a decrease in hormones takes place which prompts the uterine lining to shed (aka, a period).
Spending habits throughout the menstrual cycle: menstruation
During menstruation, women experience significant hormonal fluctuations which can lead to depression, irritability, anxiety, or mood swings.
This could lead to emotional impulsivity which may mean buying things simply because one doesn’t feel good. Why? Because impulsive purchases usually promote a boost in self-esteem and temporarily silences the negative thoughts.
Interestingly however, it is not during this phase that women tend to spend the most money.
Spending habits throughout the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase
During the follicular phase (post-ovulation), it’s been well-documented that women are more rational and controlled.
Because of this, a woman’s spending habits during this phase were less indulgent and less impulsive than other phases of their menstrual cycle.
Spending habits throughout the menstrual cycle: the luteal phase
In a study, it was found that women were more impulsive in their spending when they were in their post-fertile phase (luteal phase). In fact, many ended up regretting how much they had spent once they’d moved into a different menstrual cycle phase.
While these researchers were not entirely sure why this impulsive spending took place, they suggest that it was because of hormonal changes during this phase.
This was congruent with a study conducted by professor Karen Pine. It showed that impulsivity and irrational cravings tempted women to indulge in retail therapy or instant shopping for gratification and to satisfy their distress.
Spending habits throughout the menstrual cycle: the ovulation phase
Researchers in Montreal found that when women were most fertile, they were more inclined to buy appearance-based items. For example, earrings, clothes, and make up. This occurrence is known as the “ornamentation effect”.
Interestingly, these women were less likely to spend more money on other categories (books, food, decor etc.) during ovulation.
In this way, it was deduced that these appearance-based buys were to enhance their attractiveness for sexual purposes because they’re more interested in getting attention from potential mates.
Isn’t that fascinating? The human body really is a piece of art!
And now that you know how your menstrual cycle can influence how much money you spend, do you think you’ll be more mindful about your spending habits?