Menstrual cycle and appetite control: implications for weight regulation

Hum Reprod. 1997 Jun;12(6):1142-51. doi: 10.1093/humrep/12.6.1142.


Hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle influence appetite control and eating behaviour. Energy intake varies during the reproductive cycle in humans and animals, with a periovulatory nadir and a luteal phase peak. Patterns of macronutrient selection show less consistency but a number of studies report carbohydrate cravings in the premenstrual phase, particularly in women with premenstrual syndrome. The cyclical nature of food cravings are frequently, but not invariably, associated with depression. Fluctuations in appetite, cravings and energy intake during the menstrual cycle may occur in parallel with cyclical rhythms in serotonin, which can be accompanied by affective symptoms. The premenstrual phase can be considered as a time when women are especially vulnerable to overconsumption, food craving and depression; this is often associated with low serotonin activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Eating
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Menstrual Cycle / psychology
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / psychology
  • Serotonin / physiology
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Serotonin