Exacerbation of Psychosis During the Perimenstrual Phase of the Menstrual Cycle: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Thomas J Reilly, Vanessa C Sagnay de la Bastida, Dan W Joyce, Alexis E Cullen, Philip McGuire

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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Psychotic disorders can be exacerbated by the hormonal changes associated with childbirth, but the extent to which exacerbations occur with the menstrual cycle is unclear. We addressed this issue by conducting a systematic review. Embase, Medline, and PsychINFO databases were searched for studies that measured exacerbations of psychotic disorders in relation to the menstrual cycle. We extracted exacerbation measure, definition of menstrual cycle phase, and measurement of menstrual cycle phase. Standard incidence ratios were calculated for the perimenstrual phase based on the observed admissions during this phase divided by the expected number of admissions if the menstrual cycle had no effect. Random effects models were used to examine pooled rates of psychiatric admission in the perimenstrual phase. Nineteen studies, comprising 1193 participants were eligible for inclusion. Eleven studies examined psychiatric admission rates, 5 examined symptoms scores, 2 examined self-reported exacerbation, and 1 examined both admission rates and symptom scores. A random effects model demonstrated the rate of admissions during the perimenstrual phase was 1.48 times higher than expected (95% CI: 1.31-1.67), with no significant heterogeneity detected. Four of six symptom score studies reported perimenstrual worsening, but lack of consistency in timepoints precluded meta-analysis. Two studies examining self-reported menstrual exacerbations reported prevalences ranging from 20% to 32.4%. Psychiatric admission rates are significantly higher than expected during the perimenstrual phase. There is some evidence that a worsening of psychotic symptoms also occurs during this phase, but further research with more precise measurement of the menstrual cycle and symptomatology is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-90
Number of pages13
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2019


  • bipolar disorder
  • menstrual cycle
  • menstruation
  • menstruation disturbances
  • psychotic disorders
  • schizophrenia


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