The influence of early life sexual abuse on oxytocin concentrations and premenstrual symptomatology in women with a menstrually related mood disorder

Biol Psychol. 2015 Jul;109:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 Apr 17.


Oxytocin (OT), associated with affiliation and social bonding, social salience, and stress/pain regulation, may play a role in the pathophysiology of stress-related disorders, including menstrually-related mood disorders (MRMD's). Adverse impacts of early life sexual abuse (ESA) on adult attachment, affective regulation, and pain sensitivity suggest ESA-related OT dysregulation in MRMD pathophysiology. We investigated the influence of ESA on plasma OT, and the relationship of OT to the clinical phenomenology of MRMD's. Compared to MRMD women without ESA (n=40), those with ESA (n=20) displayed significantly greater OT [5.39pg/mL (SD, 2.4) vs. 4.36pg/mL (SD, 1.1); t (58)=-2.26, p=0.03]. In women with ESA, OT was significantly, inversely correlated with premenstrual psychological and somatic symptoms (r's=-0.45 to -0.64, p's<0.05). The relationship between OT and premenstrual symptomatology was uniformly low and non-significant in women without ESA. In women with ESA, OT may positively modulate MRMD symptomatology.

Keywords: Early life abuse; Menstrually related mood disorder (MRMD); Oxytocin; Sexual abuse; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / blood*
  • Oxytocin / blood*
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / blood*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Oxytocin