The Menstrual Cycle, Cognition, and Paramenstrual Symptomatology

  • John T. E. Richardson
Part of the Contributions to Psychology and Medicine book series (CONTRIBUTIONS)

Abstract

Most women between the ages of 15 and 50 are regularly affected by the endocrinological and physiological changes that are associated with the cyclical process of ovulation and menstruation. The menstrual cycle is a phenomenon that is patently biological in nature; indeed, it is one of the very few biological processes that exhibit a virtually complete dimorphism between male and female members of the human species (Nyborg, 1983). The experience of menstruation conditions the development of women’s personal identity (KofF, Rierdan, & Silverstone, 1978) and in turn contributes to the information that leads men and women to differentiate themselves in society (Brooks-Gunn & Ruble, 1986). At the same time, culturally shared beliefs about the menstrual cycle influence the attitudes and expectations held by both men and women concerning the role of women in society. These are expressed both in social practices and in individual behavior. That is, the menstrual cycle is a biological process that is implicated in the social construction of gender. It therefore constitutes a fundamental challenge for contemporary feminist theory, which maintains that gender behavior is linked by society to each sex in a wholly arbitrary way and is learned quite independently of the underlying biological information (see, e.g., Humm, 1989, pp. 84, 203; Tresemer, 1975; Unger, 1979).

Keywords

Placebo Fatigue Depression Estrogen Migraine 

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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

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  • John T. E. Richardson

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