The hormonal sensitivity hypothesis : a review and new findings
Pope, Carley J.
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Previous women’s health practitioners and researchers have postulated that some women are particularly sensitive to hormonal changes occurring during reproductive events. We hypothesize that some women are particularly sensitive to hormonal changes occurring across their reproductive lifespan. To evaluate this hypothesis, we reviewed findings from the existing literature and findings from our own lab. Taken together, the evidence we present shows a recurring pattern of hormonal sensitivity at predictable but different times across the lifespan of some women (i.e., menarche, the premenstrual phase, hormonal contraceptive use, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and menopause). These findings provide support for the hypothesis that there is a subgroup of women who are more susceptible to physical, psychological, and sexual symptoms related to hormonal shifts or abrupt hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the reproductive lifespan. We propose that this pattern reflects a Hormonal Sensitivity Syndrome.