To determine the impact of gender roles, anxiety sensitivity, and somatic concerns on self-reported menstrual distress, two studies were conducted. In the first study using 278 primarily Caucasian college females, anxiety-sensitivity level, not current menstrual cycle phase, influenced reports of menstrual symptom severity and depression. Regardless of cycle phase at the time of self-report, women high in anxiety sensitivity reported significantly more depressed mood, trait anxiety, and retrospective menstrual symptoms. In the second study of 158 primarily Caucasian college females varying in anxiety sensitivity levels, adherence to sex role stereotypes, feminist beliefs, and illness attitudes were examined. Participants also completed measures of general premenstrual, most-recent premenstrual, and current menstrual symptoms. Women high in anxiety sensitivity reported the highest levels of sex-specificity, feminist embeddedness, and illness attitudes, with sex-specificity accounting for significant variance in current menstrual symptoms. Results are discussed within the context of the menstrual reactivity hypothesis, which proposes that beliefs surrounding the menstrual cycle and body sensations expectancies contribute to self-reports of greater menstrual distress. Women high in anxiety sensitivity appear to represent one subgroup vulnerable to menstrual reactivity.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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