Mental Health News – New research found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms may vary throughout the menstrual cycle in women, with more symptoms during the first few days of the cycle when the hormone estradiol is low, and fewer symptoms close to ovulation when estradiol is high.
In a new study, researchers at the American Psychological Association examined 40 women (aged 18-33) who had experienced a traumatic event, such as a serious injury or sexual violence. They measured the level of estradiol in the women’s saliva, asked them to explain the trauma they had witnessed and the PTSD symptoms they’d experienced in the past months.
They also asked the women to answer five daily questionnaires for 10 days spanning the high and low estradiol portions of their menstrual cycles, and complete a PTSD symptom checklist each evening.
With the help of the collected data, the researchers measured two stress biomarkers, the hormone cortisol, and the enzyme salivary alpha-amylase, in these women’s saliva, before and after they described their trauma.
The study findings showed that there was a significant association between lower estradiol and greater self-reported PTSD symptoms severity in those women. The study discovered low cortisol and high salivary alpha-amylase levels, in the women in the low-estradiol portions of their menstrual cycles, in response to retelling their trauma stories.
According to the research results, those women had greater variability in their daily moods during the low-estradiol days of the menstrual cycle and they reported more severe trauma symptoms during that time.
“When in the cycle you assess women might actually affect whether they meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD, especially for people who are right on the border that can have real practical implications,” said Jenna Rieder, lead author of the study. According to her, the findings could have implications for the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD in women.
To know More you May Refer To:
Rieder, J. K., Kleshchova, O., & Weierich, M. R. (2021). Estradiol, stress reactivity, and daily affective experiences in trauma-exposed women. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0001113