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Menstrual Phase Response to Nocturnal Light

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The aims of the study were to test whether nocturnal white light can normalize menstrual cycles in oligomenorrheic women, and whether the phase of the menstrual cycle in which light is given is important for the shortening effect. Twenty-five women with long menstrual cycles (35.9–53.4 days on average) were treated for 1–3 cycles, each of which was preceded and followed by at least two untreated cycles. Treatments were 100 watt bedside lights administered for 5 consecutive nights. They centered at three different phases of the menstrual cycle: 6–7th, 14–17th or 23–25th days of the treated cycle (early, middle or late treatment, respectively). On average, the treatment cycle lengths were modestly, but significantly reduced compared to the duration of baseline cycles (more than 11 %). The difference in the effects of the early, middle and late treatment was not significant. However, if middle or late treatments were administered in the latter half of the interval between the menstrual cycle onset and probable time of ovulation, reductions of the treated cycle length were substantial (more than 20 %, resulting in cycles less than 33 days on average; p < 0.001). Other treatments produced only weak (up to 7 %), if any, cycle reductions. Moreover, we found a strong correlation (p < 0.001) between the duration of baseline cycle and differential effect of middle treatment (compared to early or late treatment). Middle treatments reduced treated cycle duration to the normal range in the subjects with shorter mean baseline cycles (<42 days), while in the subjects with longer duration of baseline cycle the shortening effect was produced by late treatments (p = 0.005 and p = 0.001, respectively). The results support the suggestion that a bedside lamp used on nights prior to ovulation can cause reduction of long menstrual cycles.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2002

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