Light exposure, melatonin secretion, and menstrual cycle parameters: an integrative review

Biol Res Nurs. 2007 Jul;9(1):49-69. doi: 10.1177/1099800407303337.


Dysfunction in menstrual physiology has pronounced effects on quality of life, involving mood changes, body image, infertility, and pregnancy complications. Light exposure may affect menstrual cycles and symptoms through the influence of melatonin secretion. The purpose of this systematic review is to determine the current state of knowledge about the effects of light and melatonin secretion on menstrual phase and cycle alterations. A brief overview of the influence of melatonin on human physiology is included. There is evidence of a relationship between light exposure and melatonin secretion and irregular menstrual cycles, menstrual cycle symptoms, and disordered ovarian function. In women with a psychopathology such as bipolar disorder or an endocrinopathy such as polycystic ovary syndrome, there seems to be greater vulnerability to the influence of light-dark exposure. Research on the complex role of light-dark exposure in menstrual physiology has implications for treatment of menstrual-associated disorders.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronobiology Disorders / etiology
  • Chronobiology Disorders / metabolism
  • Chronobiology Disorders / physiopathology
  • Chronobiology Disorders / therapy
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / physiology
  • Humans
  • Light* / adverse effects
  • Luteinizing Hormone / physiology
  • Melatonin / physiology*
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Menstruation Disturbances / etiology
  • Menstruation Disturbances / metabolism
  • Menstruation Disturbances / physiopathology
  • Menstruation Disturbances / therapy
  • Ovary / physiology
  • Phototherapy / methods
  • Pineal Gland / physiology
  • Pituitary Gland / physiology
  • Prolactin / physiology
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons


  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Melatonin