Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1975;1(2):120-127    pdf


Female work capacity during the menstrual cycle: physiological and psychological reactions.

by Gamberale F, Strindberg L, Wahlberg I

Changes in physical and mental work capacity during the menstrual cycle were studied in 12 healthy woemen with severe menstrual distress. Physiological and psychological tests were performed before, during, and after menstruation. Heart rate, pulmonary ventilation, oxygen uptake, blood lactate concentration, and perceived exertion were measured during work on a bicycle ergometer ar two submaximal work loads corresponding to 40 and 70 %, respectively, of individual maximal oxygen uptake. Mental work capacity was studied with the aid of performance tests of psychological functions such as attention, short-term memory, perceptual speed, perception of time, and reaction time. No change in heart rate or oxygen uptake could be observed over the three phases of the menstrual cycle. However, pulmonary ventilation during work varied significantly. It was highest in the menstrual phase. At the same heart rate exercise on the bicycle ergometer was perceived as more exerting in the menstrual phase than in either the premenstrual or postmenstrual phase. Among the performance tests significant results were obtained only in a test of reaction time, which was slightly impaired during the menstrual phase. The results of the performance tests do not however support the assumption that menstruation affects a woman's mental work capacity.