Skip to content

    PMS Health Center

    Font Size

    PMS a Concern? It Might Not Just Be Hormones

    Women Who Don't Get Premenstrual Syndrome May Use Their Brains Differently

    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Oct. 25, 2005 -- Whether or not a woman suffers from monthly premenstrual mood swings may be related to how her brain is wired as well as her hormones.

    A new study shows that women who experience no menstrual mood changes use parts of their brain differently than women who have PMS (premenstrual syndrome), a condition marked by mood swings prior to menstruation in addition to other symptoms.

    Researchers found women with steady moods had heightened activity in parts of their brain thought to control emotions. They say this increased activity may make them less susceptible to the emotional effects of hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle.

    Brain Plays a Role in Premenstrual Mood Swings

    In the study, researchers examined brain scans of 12 women without premenstrual mood symptoms. The brain scans were taken one to five days before the first day of their period (premenstrual) and eight to 10 days after menstruation (postmenstrual).

    During each brain scan, the women saw printed words with 80 positive, 80 negative, and 80 neutral connotations, such as "safe," "death," or "bookcase," while performing other tasks.

    The results showed that the women had greater activity in the medial regions of the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain during the premenstrual period and increased activity in lateral regions of this area after menstruation.

    The orbitofrontal cortex has been linked to emotions, motivation, and decision making, according to the researchers.

    Researchers say the changes seen on the brain scans were not reflected in the women's apparent emotional state. Therefore, they suspect that this increased activity in the separate areas of the orbitofrontal cortex influences the ability for women to compensate for the hormonal changes while maintaining a consistent emotional state.

    The results appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Today on WebMD

    Woman with cramps
    Causes and treatments.
    portrait of thoughtful woman
    Symptoms of this severe form of PMS.
    woman with severe discomfort
    When is it serious?
    mineral water with chaste berry
    Does evening primrose oil really work?
    Woman with cramps
    Pills with smiley faces
    flat stomach
    estrogen gene
    Managing PMS Exercise And More
    woman with severe discomfort
    woman clutching at stomach
    herbs in mortar and pestle