Ann Thompson

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

King, Sondra L.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Human and Family Resources


Menstrual cycle; Women--Physiology; Ingestion


The menstrual cycle produces a number of physiological changes throughout a woman’s reproductive years. Cyclic changes in metabolism, body weight, food cravings and food intake have been studied throughout the human menstrual cycle. Ovarian hormones have been shown to affect reproductive behaviors, activity levels, body weight-regulating behaviors, and patterns of food intake in animals. The effects of the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle in humans are not clearly understood. The menstrual cycle has been shown to affect eating behaviors. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the effects of the menstrual cycle when dealing with issues relating to food intake in women. This study was conducted to further document the variation in food consumption throughout the menstrual cycle. Twelve women, 19 to 23 years of age, participated in this study by keeping daily dietary intake records for an entire menstrual cycle. The subjects were divided into two groups based on oral contraceptive (OC) use. Seven subjects reported normal menstrual cycles and five subjects were taking OCs which regulate hormone levels and produce conditions similar to those found during the luteal phase of the cycle. Dietary intakes were analyzed for caloric content, and for amounts of protein, carbohydrate, and fat consumed per day. The caloric intake and the nutrient composition of foods consumed were compared during the preovulatory and the post-ovulatory phases of the menstrual cycle. The mean caloric intake in subjects with normal menstrual cycles was 303 kcal higher during the post-ovulatory phase than during the pre-ovulatory phase. The mean caloric intake during the post-ovulatory phase was only 47 kcal greater in subjects taking oral contraceptives. Mean carbohydrate and protein intakes were also higher during the post-ovulatory phase of the normally cycling subjects. Differences between phase means for all nutrients in subjects taking oral contraceptives were not significant. The effect of phase on the intake of calories, carbohydrate and protein, in subjects with normal menstrual cycles, approached but did not meet significance at P=0.05. No significant changes in fat consumption were seen in either group of subjects.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [28]-30)


iv, 62 pages




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