The Menstrual Cycle: Psychological, Behavioral, Physiological, and Nutritional Factors

  • Olga van den Akker


The human female menstrual cycle is marked by the regular occurrence of menses appearing on average once every 28 days starting at puberty and ending at menopause. It is controlled by the endocrine system and requires adequate hormonal and nutritional status to function. Since the menstrual cycle is dependent on the synchronized operation between systems inputs and outputs, disturbances or system failures can occur at any point. Menstrual cycle discomfort or distress ranges from clinically defined and physiologically measurable symptoms of, for example, amenorrhea to the more difficult to measure premenstrual dysphoria. Symptoms of premenstrual discomfort or dysphoria, commonly referred to as premenstrual distress, premenstrual syndrome, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, are physiological, behavioral, and psychological in nature, commonly experienced and can range in severity from mild to debilitating. Although premenstrual disturbances have been studied extensively by researchers from many disciplines, no consensus on its etiology exists. Nevertheless, psychological, behavioral, physiological, endocrine, and nutritional factors have all been identified as relevant in either their contribution causally or as effective in the treatment of these premenstrual dysphoric disorders. The evidence of links between biochemical, nutritional, and psychological variables and the premenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle are explored in this chapter. Nutritional interventions for premenstrual disorders are catching up with the previously extolled pharmacological therapies, but their efficacy is also yet to be confirmed.


Menstrual Cycle Premenstrual Syndrome Late Luteal Phase Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Dysphoric Mood 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



American College Obstetricians and Gynecology


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone


Follicle-stimulating hormone


Luteinizing hormone


National Institute of Mental Health


Premenstrual dysphoric disorder


Premenstrual syndrome


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK

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