Psychological disorders linked to menstrual cycle
What does a woman's cycle have to do with her mental health? According to new research from University College London, the psychological effects of stressful experiences can have a greater impact on a woman’s mental health during specific times of her menstrual cycle. The researchers say this is the first study to demonstrate a possible association between psychological vulnerability and a specific moment during the menstrual cycle - which in this case was ovulation.
Suspecting this connection between psychological disorders and a woman's cycle, the researchers set up a study of 41 females aged 18 to 25, none of whom were on contraceptive pills. Each participant watched a "stressful" 14-minute movie which depicted death or injury. Saliva samples were drawn immediately following the movies in order to assess hormone levels. Participants also wrote down whether they had unwanted thoughts about the video during the next few days, when they had them, and how often.
They found that women in the “early luteal” phase of their cycles—which falls roughly 16 to 20 days after the start of their period—had three times as many intrusive thoughts as those who watched the video while in other phases of their menstrual cycles. The scientists suggested that common mental health problems might be prevented if specific dates during the menstrual cycle are targeted for potentially stressful events.
Hormonal changes associated with menstruation have also been linked to changes in asthma symptoms, an increased susceptibility to knee injuries and a higher likelihood of impulsive spending.