, Volume 96, Issue 6, pp 703-710
Date: 01 Feb 2006

Influence of menstrual cycle phase on pulmonary function in asthmatic athletes

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Abstract

The main aim of this study was to investigate whether there is a relationship between menstrual cycle phase and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) in female athletes with mild atopic asthma. Seven eumenorrheic subjects with regular 28-day menstrual cycles were exercised to volitional exhaustion on day 5 [mid-follicular (FOL)] and day 21 [mid-luteal (LUT)] of their menstrual cycle. Pulmonary function tests were conducted pre- and post-exercise. The maximal percentage decline in post-exercise forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced expiratory flow from 25 to 75% of forced vital capacity (FEF25–75%) was significantly greater (P<0.05) on day 21 (mid-LUT phase) (−17.35±2.32 and −26.28±6.04%, respectively), when salivary progesterone concentration was highest, compared to day 5 (mid-FOL phase) (−12.81±3.35 and −17.23±8.20%, respectively), when salivary progesterone concentration was lowest. The deterioration in the severity of EIB during the mid-LUT phase was accompanied by worsening asthma symptoms and increased bronchodilator use. There was a negative correlation between the percent change in pre- to post-exercise FEV1 and salivary progesterone concentration. However, no such correlation was found between salivary estradiol and the percentage change in pre- to post-exercise FEV1. This study has shown for the first time that menstrual cycle phase is an important determinant of the severity of EIB in female athletes with mild atopic asthma. Female asthmatic athletes may need to adjust their training and competition schedules to their menstrual cycle and to consider the potential negative effects of the LUT phase of the menstrual cycle on exercise performance.