Variations in performance, mood and state during the menstrual cycle
Two investigations were carried out to examine variations in cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood and state, during the menstrual cycle. In the first, ten normally cycling subjects were tested on four computerised cognitive and psychomotor tasks, eight times during one menstrual cycle. Measures of state were taken, using self-report, heart rate and time to basal skin potential. Subjects completed daily mood ratings and a retrospective mood questionnaire. At each testing session, subjects recorded the events of the last four days. The data were examined for the relationship between state and performance, state and mood, state and cycle phase, and between performance and phase. Self-reported arousal significantly increased in the premenstrual phase, and heart rate increased in the luteal phase of the cycle. There were few significant relations between state and performance, or performance and phase: those obtained could be explained aschance. Self-reported stress was greater with negative mood, yet overall there were few significant patterns between mood and state. Mood was found to be more strongly related to event than to cycle phase. A cyclical variation in mood was recorded on retrospective questionnaires much more frequently than on daily questionnaires. A second study investigated the differences between self diagnosed Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) sufferers and non sufferers, (both oral contraceptive users and normally cycling subjects), on mood, performance, state, and reaction to mild stress, at premenstrual or intermenstrual stages of the cycle. There were no differences between the subject groups on performance during the cycle, or reaction to stress. Self-reported stress and arousal increased premenstrually for all subjects. A few differences were found between the pill and non pill subjects, and between the PMS and non PMS subjects on mood ratings. PMS subjects scored significantly higher on the Neuroticism scale of the EPI than Non PMS subjects, and were more 'A type' in personality, on a Framingham A/B personality scale. Results were discussed in terms of compensatory effort and coping strategies.