With Christmas and New Year right around the corner, it’s time to make some healthy resolutions and actually follow through on them. Quitting smoking should perhaps be your top priority before weight loss, starting your own travel blog, or reconnecting with old friends. Yes, those other resolutions are important too, but there’s scarcely any vice that’s as damaging to your health as smoking. Fortunately, there’s a neat trick to help make this difficult task easier, so we hope you give it a shot!
Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania studied the link between a woman’s menstrual cycle and her responses to nicotine. The data collected suggests that a woman would find it easier to quit during certain times in her monthly menstrual cycle, while she might find it tougher to stick to her resolve at other times in her cycle. This information also suggests that more research is required on gender-specific cessation techniques. The researchers also acknowledged that the study was very small with just 34 men and women, who smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day. The results of this study are preliminary and indicative, but they are not conclusive.
The data shows that the best time for a woman to quit smoking is during the mid-luteal phase of her cycle, while the worst time to quit would be during the follicular phase. The luteal phase starts the day after the ovulation phase and it ends with the first day of menstruation. This means that the best time for a woman to quit smoking is approximately 5 to 7 days before the expected day of menstruation. The follicular phase is from the first day of a woman’s period up to the day she ovulates and this is when she is more likely to crave cigarettes although her cravings would be strongest at the beginning of the follicular phase.
Earlier research suggested that a woman’s menstrual cycle might make it harder for her to quit smoking. Researchers posited that a decrease in estrogen progesterone levels might increase activity in the neural circuits that are associated with cravings. Thus, lower levels of these hormones can intensify withdrawal symptoms.
Other gender-specific studies show that there may be several physiological differences in the effects of cigarette smoking on men and women. Animal studies too supported this hypothesis, as tests on rats showed that female rats became addicted more quickly to nicotine and were willing to work much harder for the same quantity as compared to male rats. Several studies show that women tend to smoke fewer cigarettes per day and do not inhale as deeply as men, but they get addicted more easily, have a harder time quitting, and are more likely to go back to smoking even after they manage to quit for a short period.
When studying the effects of smoking cessation programs on men and women, it was observed that nicotine replacement was more effective for men than women. Withdrawal may be more intense for women as compared to men. Furthermore, several studies show that women may be more susceptible to the carcinogens in tobacco smoke and are at a higher risk of several cancers. We need a better understanding of the biological and psychosocial factors of smoking behaviors so that we can identify areas of concern specific to women. This will ensure that they receive appropriate and adequate help to quit smoking.