A mixed methods examination of attitudes and perceived mood change and well-being across the menstrual cycle

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMaster of Philosophy


This thesis examined the influence of menstrual cycle phase and hormonal contraceptive use on mood and well-being. Focus groups examined attitudes towards the menstrual cycle, and thematic analysis
identified negativity about the menstrual cycle and a perception that males are disgusted by menstruating females. These themes were probed in males and while some had negative attitudes towards menstruation many regarded it as a natural process and were surprised to be asked about disgust towards menstruating females. Prior to examining mood and well-being changes, a noninvasive and inexpensive protocol was developed for identifying where testing should be carried out if differing levels of hormones were to be captured. Testing format used a three-phase approach which added a mid-luteal phase to the more typical menstrual and ovulatory phases. This was designed in order to capture the influence of a surge in progesterone levels at this point. As the influence of progesterone on mood and well-being is not well-known, it was predicted that there would be an effect of menstrual cycle phase on both. Alongside this, an investigation of the influence of hormonal contraceptive (HC) use on mood and well-being was also conducted. Menstrual cycle phase effects were found in relation to mindfulness and curiosity. These results suggest females are more conscious of their body as menstruation approaches and more motivated to seek out novelty when menstruation begins. No hormonal contraceptive effects were found, however, participants in this group were treated as a homogenous group of hormonal contraceptive users. In actuality, a number of different types and generations of hormonal contraceptives were being taken by these participants and had sample size been larger comparisons could have been made between these groups. Overall, this thesis takes the first steps in investigating the influence of higher levels of progesterone in combination with relatively high levels of estrogen on mood and well-being. Although few significant effects were found, a series of interesting trends were identified, and it makes a valuable contribution to the literature, which warrants further research.
Date of Award26 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorLynn Wright (Supervisor) & Scott Hardie (Supervisor)


  • Menstruation
  • Natural
  • Positive
  • Mood
  • Happiness

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