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Did Hillary Clinton Participate in a Menstrual Synchrony Study?
image One of the stranger rumors I encountered in the course of writing Elephants on Acid was the suggestion that Hillary Clinton participated in a menstrual synchrony study while she was a student at Wellesley College during the 1960s. Stranger still, I haven't been able to disprove this.

Here are the facts. In 1968, Martha McClintock, while a senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, convinced all 135 of her dormmates to participate in a study of the phenomenon of synchronous menstruation. She recorded the date of onset of their menstrual cycles three times during the academic year. Her hypothesis was that their cycles would synchronize as the year progressed, and this is what her data showed. She published an article about her study in a 1971 issue of Nature (1971, 229: 244-245). It remains a highly regarded study.

Hillary Clinton (then Hillary Rodham) was also a senior at Wellesley in 1968. This raises the possibility that she participated in McClintock's study. There were about 400 students in the senior class, which make the odds pretty good that Hillary participated in the study. (A third of the class participated.) The question is: Did the two women (Rodham and McClintock) live in the same dorm?

In her autobiography, Clinton writes, "During my junior and senior years, Johanna Branson and I lived in a large suite overlooking Lake Waban, on the third floor of Davis." McClintock, however, has never revealed what dorm she conducted her study in. I emailed her and asked, thinking that maybe she could say that she didn't conduct the study in Davis, even if she couldn't reveal where she did conduct it. She simply replied, "I cannot answer this question due to privacy regulations."

This leaves open the possibility that Hillary did participate in McClintock's study. I emailed the Clinton campaign, but they never responded to me. My hunch, however, is that she didn't participate in it. It seems like the kind of thing that would be more widely publicized if it were true.

Of course, it doesn't really matter whether she did participate in the study or not. Although if she did, it would be interesting as a piece of biographical trivia. Hillary Clinton herself would seem to be the only person who can confirm or deny the rumor.
Birth/BabiesCelebritiesScience
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 09, 2007
True of false, is it a hoax? Is it interesting to anyone outside of the Clinton rabid fan base? I think even 90% of her political supporters would go "Ho hum" over this. Not only is it trivia, but uninteresting trivia at that.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed May 09, 2007  at  04:26 PM
Hillary Clinton had a menstrual cycle and told a fellow classmate about it for a study??? That's insane! What sort of woman do such a thing?
Posted by Kristina  in  san francisco  on  Wed May 09, 2007  at  10:17 PM
It's not that odd, or even that remarkable. Hundreds of studies have been carried into menstrual synchronicity. They've taken place in convents, and all female domitories - anywhere where large groups of women live together - and college campuses are used a lot, and a lot of students carry out these studies. (the end result seems to be that when a lot of women live together, they tend to start their periods at roughly the same time - something to do with pheromones) In fact, I don't understand why it should be a story, or even an 'interesting fact' at all.

And Kristina - I don't know about San Francisco, but in London, women discuss periods with each other all the time - as it's one single shared giant experience that we can all share in and sympthaise with each other. Taking part in a study that could help women understand their periods, and their own body, better doesn't seem insane to me.
Posted by Nona  in  London  on  Thu May 10, 2007  at  08:48 AM
Hundreds of studies have subsequently been conducted about menstrual synchrony, but McClintock's study was the first. And come on, it is interesting that the most famous study about this phenomenon could possibly have had such a celebrity participant.

If nothing else, it's amazing that such an influential study was being conducted by a college student with her dormmates. Everyone seems to be acting like this is nothing out of the ordinary... but I don't know many other college students that have conducted such ground-breaking research. Most college students I know just party and drink beer.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu May 10, 2007  at  02:59 PM
I don't know Kristina but I get the sense she was joking...just also saying that it is not even interesting to talk about at all.
Posted by Lina  on  Mon May 14, 2007  at  04:07 PM
This is a very famous study, one of the first carried out on this subject.
Whether or not Ms. Clinton was one of the volunteer subjects, though, strikes me as completely uninteresting.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Round Rock, Texas  on  Mon May 14, 2007  at  06:55 PM
Nona being from London u should pick up on Kristina's sarcasm.
Posted by merve  on  Mon Jun 04, 2007  at  09:30 AM
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