01/05/2015 12:09 EST | Updated 01/05/2015 12:59 EST

A Smarter Way For Women To Quit Smoking

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Quitting smoking is often at the top of many people's New Year's resolution lists, but despite innovations that will supposedly help you stop the habit, people still fail at this goal year after year.

Now, research coming out of the University of Montreal and its partner school, Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, suggests there's one way women can stick to their plan: time your quitting to coincide with your menstrual cycle. Or at least, certain times of your period.

In a study published in Psychiatry Journal, lead researcher Adrianna Mendrek notes that females could be at a higher risk for getting addicted to smoking and have more difficulty kicking the habit, based on laboratory observations.

"Female rats become addicted more quickly, and are willing to work harder for the same quantity of dose," Mendrek explained in a press release. The researchers hypothesized that sex hormones could be the cause, and looked at the changing levels in the body as a potential reason why a woman would smoke more.

The 34 men and women in the study underwent brain scans, and while there was no significant differences found between how the brain circuitry reacted to cravings in either gender, the female brains did show changes in how they handled withdrawal from nicotine depending on where they were in their menstrual cycle.

"Our data reveal that incontrollable urges to smoke are stronger at the beginning of the follicular phase that begins after menstruation. Hormonal decreases of estrogen and progesterone possibly deepen the withdrawal syndrome and increase activity of neural circuits associated with craving," Mendrek said.

A previous study at the University of South Carolina found similar results with regards to progesterone and success rates in quitting smoking, reported

So how does this help a woman who's trying to quit? Starting your no-cigarette regimen right after ovulation (approximately two weeks from the first day of your period) might make it easier, as the estrogen and progesterone levels are still high, and therefore, cravings may be lessened. It's worth a shot!


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