Subjective response to nicotine by menstrual phase

Addict Behav. 2015 Apr;43:50-3. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.12.008. Epub 2014 Dec 16.


Introduction: The luteal menstrual phase might be a favorable time for smoking cessation when non-nicotine interventions (e.g. counseling, bupropion) are used, whereas the follicular menstrual phase appears favorable when nicotine interventions are used. Thus, there may be an interaction between menstrual phase and response to nicotine. We sought to examine the role of menstrual phase on response to nicotine during acute smoking abstinence.

Methods: In this controlled cross-over trial, women completed two identical experimental sessions (follicular [F] vs. luteal [L] phase) after four days of biochemically-verified smoking abstinence. During the sessions, nicotine nasal spray was administered, and participants provided a series of subjective assessments.

Results: Participants (n=140) were 29.7±6.6years old and smoked 12.6±5.8 cigarettes per day. Compared to the F phase, the L phase was associated with a greater increase in stimulation (7.2±2.2 vs. 14.4±2.3, p=0.01, respectively) and greater decrease in urge to smoke (-13.6±2.3 vs. -21.1±2.5, p=0.02, respectively) after the first dose of nicotine. No other significant differences were observed.

Conclusions: Out of 13 total measures examined at two different time points, we observed only two significant menstrual phase differences in the subjective response to nicotine. Therefore, these data do not provide strong evidence for a menstrual phase difference in the subjective response to nicotine. Additional research is needed to confirm this relationship and explore how non-nicotine smoking reinforcements (such as sensory sensations) may vary by menstrual phase.

Keywords: Addiction; Hormones; Menstrual cycle; Nicotine; Smoking.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Luteal Phase / drug effects*
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Young Adult


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine