Do hormones have an effect on women's mental health? Apparently so, according to scientists from University College London.
Women were found to be more susceptible to some of the psychological effects associated with stressful experiences at specific times during their menstrual cycle, reported MedicalNewsToday.com.
During women’s menstrual cycles, hormones are at work telling the body that it’s time to ovulate. This UCL research is profound in that it’s the first study to demonstrate a potential link between psychological susceptibility and the timing of a biological cycle like ovulation, wrote ScienceDaily.com.
Basically, the research connected the phase of a woman's menstrual cycle to the likelihood of her experiencing intrusive thoughts, explained Huffington Post.
Intrusive thoughts can be repetitive and unwanted thoughts that typically take place after a stressful event. These thoughts can often last for days, sometimes weeks or even longer.
Study co-author Dr. Sunjeev Kamboj, from UCL's Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, and his team followed 41 women ages 18-35 years old.
All of the participants were in one of three specific stages in their ovulation cycle. They also had regular menstrual periods and were not on the birth control pill.
Each woman watched a 14-minute stressful video which contained death or injury. Saliva samples were taken immediately afterward in order to evaluate their hormone levels.
The women also wrote down whether they had intrusive or unwanted thoughts about the video over the next few days, when they had them, and how often.
The study showed that during their early luteal phase of their ovulation cycle, the women were more than three times as likely to experience unwanted thoughts about the video as the participants who were in other ovulation stages.
The early luteal phase occurs 16-20 days after a woman’s period starts.
"This indicates that there is actually a fairly narrow window within the menstrual cycle when women may be particularly vulnerable to experiencing distressing symptoms after a stressful event," Dr. Kamboj told ScienceDaily.com.