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Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

A lack of consistent evidence for cortisol dysregulation in premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder

TitleA lack of consistent evidence for cortisol dysregulation in premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsKiesner, J, Granger, DA
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume65
Pagination149-64
Date PublishedMar
ISBN Number1873-3360 (Electronic)0306-4530 (Linking)
Accession Number26789492
KeywordsCortisol, Hypothalamic-pituitary axis, Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, Premenstrual syndrome
Abstract

Although decades of research has examined the association between cortisol regulation and premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMS/PMDD), no review exists to provide a general set of conclusions from the extant research. In the present review we summarize and interpret research that has tested for associations between PMS/PMDD and cortisol levels and reactivity (n=38 original research articles). Three types of studies are examined: correlational studies, environmental-challenge studies, and pharmacological-challenge studies. Overall, there was very little evidence that women with and without PMS/PMDD demonstrate systematic and predictable mean-level differences in cortisol, or differences in cortisol response/reactivity to challenges. Methodological differences in sample size, the types of symptoms used for diagnosis (physical and psychological vs. only affective), or the type of cortisol measure used (serum vs. salivary), did not account for differences between studies that did and did not find significant effects. Caution is recommended before accepting the conclusion of null effects, and recommendations are made that more rigorous research be conducted, considering symptom-specificity, within-person analyses, and multiple parameters of cortisol regulation, before final conclusions are drawn.