The role of ovarian steroid hormones in mood

Horm Behav. 2012 Sep;62(4):448-54. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.08.001. Epub 2012 Aug 8.


Fluctuations in ovarian hormones across the menstrual cycle have long been considered a determinant of mood in women. The majority of studies, however, use menstrual cycle phase as proxy for hormone levels. We measured ovarian hormone levels directly in order to examine the relationship between daily hormone levels and mood in non-help-seeking women. Participants (n=19) provided daily information about their positive and negative moods, and collected their first morning-voided urine for 42days, which was analyzed for estrogen and progesterone metabolites (E1G and PdG). The independent contributions of daily E1G, PdG, stress, physical health, and weekly social support, were calculated for 12 daily mood items, and composite measures of positive and negative mood items, using linear mixed models. E1G or PdG contributed to few mood items: E1G measured 2days prior contributed negatively to the model for Motivation, while E1G measured 3days prior contributed negatively to Getting Along with Others, and E1G measured 4days prior contributed negatively to Anxiety. PdG, measured the same day and 1day prior, contributed positively to the models of Irritability, and PdG measured 5days prior contributed positively to Difficulty Coping. By contrast, the variables stress and physical health contributed significantly to all the mood items, as well as both composite positive and negative mood measures. These findings demonstrate that, compared to stress and physical health, ovarian hormones make only a small contribution to daily mood. Thus, fluctuations in ovarian hormones do not contribute significantly to daily mood in healthy women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Estrogens / urine
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / pharmacology
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / urine
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / psychology
  • Menstrual Cycle / urine
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Mood Disorders / urine
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Progesterone / metabolism
  • Progesterone / urine
  • Psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Estrogens
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Progesterone