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Association between subjective and cortisol stress response depends on the menstrual cycle phase

Authors
Journal
Psychoneuroendocrinology
0306-4530
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
38
Issue
12
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.08.009
Keywords
  • Psychosocial Stress
  • Menstrual Cycle
  • Subjective Stress
  • Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis
  • Cortisol
  • Cardiovascular Stress Responses
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Medicine

Abstract

Summary The relation between the physiologic and subjective stress responses is inconsistently reported across studies. Menstrual cycle phases variations have been found to influence the psychophysiological stress response; however little is known about possible cycle phase differences in the relationship between physiological and subjective stress responses. This study examined the effect of menstrual cycle phase in the association between subjective stress and physiological response. Forty-five women in either the follicular (n=21) or the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle were exposed to a psychosocial stress task. Salivary cortisol, cardiovascular, and subjective stress were assessed throughout the experiment. Results revealed a significant group difference in the association between peak levels of cortisol and post task subjective stress. In women in the follicular phase a negative association was observed (r2=0.199, p=0.04), while this relation was positive in the group of women in the luteal phase (r2=0.227, p=0.02). These findings suggest a possible role of sex hormones in modulating the cortisol stress response function in emotion regulation.

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