Influences of the Normal Menstrual Cycle on Physiologic Functioning During Behavioral Stress

Catherine M. Stoney, Jane F. Owens, Karen A. Matthews, Mary C. Davis, Anthony Caggiula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of the normal menstrual cycle on lipoprotein, cardiovascular, and neuroendocrine stress responses. Fifteen normally‐cycling, healthy women participated in a series of behavioral tasks during the menstrual, follicular, and luteal phases of their menstrual cycle. These women had established menstrual cycle regularity for the three months prior to enrollment in this study, were free from menstrual cycle disturbances, biochemically confirmed that they ovulated, and displayed appropriate patterns of reproductive hormone fluctuations during the study period. Heart rate, blood pressure, low density lipoprotein‐cholesterol, and total cholesterol all demonstrated significant elevations from baseline levels during tasks. No differences in the magnitude of stress responses during the three menstrual cycle phases were noted for any physiological variable. We conclude that the hormonal fluctuations that occur in healthy, normally‐cycling women during the menstrual cycle do not influence the stress responses that were investigated here. Significant influences of menstrual cycle phase previously reported in the literature, albeit not in a consistent direction, may have been due to the recruitment of women with menstrual cycle irregularities, and to the failure to adequately verify menstrual cycle phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-135
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood pressure
  • Catecholamines
  • Lipoproteins
  • Menstrual cycle phase
  • Reproductive hormones
  • Stress responses
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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