Self-reported crying during the menstrual cycle: Sign of discomfort and emotional turmoil or erroneous beliefs?

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Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Crying is generally associated with distress and discomfort, and is also part of the premenstrual syndrome in women. The present studies focused on crying fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. First, a retrospective cross-cultural study of women from 33 different countries (n = 2447) was conducted. Crying proneness reportedly increased before menstruation, with remarkable cross-cultural differences. Women who were using oral contraceptives (OC) reported largely the same pattern of results as women who were not using OC. In a second study, 82 Dutch students kept a crying and mood diary for two consecutive menstrual cycles. During no phase of the menstrual cycle did actual crying episodes or crying proneness increase, although significant changes in mood were reported. Given the large cross-cultural differences on the one hand, and the remarkable correspondence between the self-reports of those using OC and those who did not use them on the other, it is concluded that the role of female sex hormone fluctuations in crying has to be questioned. Rather, it seems more likely that fluctuations in self-reported crying are based on implicit theories about the relationship between the menstrual cycle, mood and crying.



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