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Susceptibility to Nausea and Motion Sickness as a Function of the Menstrual Cycle

      Purpose

      The present study examined whether susceptibility to nausea and other symptoms of vection-induced motion sickness vary as a function of phase of the menstrual cycle, as research findings in this area are sparse and contradictory.

      Design

      Ninety young women (42 current users of oral contraceptives) were exposed to a rotating optokinetic drum during the peri-menses or peri-ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle in an independent-groups, quasi-experimental design. Nausea and motion sickness symptoms were assessed using the Nausea Profile (NP) and the Subjective Symptoms of Motion Sickness (SSMS) questionnaire.

      Results

      Among women not on oral contraceptives, reports of nausea and motion sickness by women in the peri-menses phase were more severe than reports by women in the peri-ovulatory phase. By contrast, among women taking oral contraceptives, reports of nausea and motion sickness did not differ by the same categorical phase of the menstrual cycle.

      Conclusions

      We speculate that fluctuating estrogen levels over the course of the menstrual cycle may influence the experience of or susceptibility to nausea and motion sickness during illusory self-motion and other nauseogenic contexts.
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      Biography

      Robert L. Matchock, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at The Pennsylvania State University, Altoona. His research is focused on circadian and seasonal rhythms of physiology and behavior, with an emphasis on reproduction and menarche.

      Biography

      Max Levine, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Siena College. His work is focused on the psychophysiology of nausea and appetite, and explores interactions between behavior, psychosocial factors, and functioning of the gastrointestinal system.

      Biography

      Peter Gianaros, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. His work uses human imaging neuroscience methods to study the central regulation of autonomic and cardiovascular function in health and disease.

      Biography

      Robert Stern, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at The Pennsylvania State University. He studies the relationship of gastric and autonomic activity to nausea.