Several lines of research suggest that reproductive events may affect the course of bipolar disorder (BD) in some women. With respect to the menstrual cycle, the focus has been on dysphoric symptoms [e.g., premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)], and the exacerbation of depression, in the premenstrual phase. This article reviews the literature on the potential effects of the menstrual cycle on BD.
Although research has focused on the premenstrual phase to the neglect of the periovulatory phase, it appears that a subgroup of women with BD, possibly those with hormonal sensitivity, experience menstrual cycle effects on depressive, hypomanic, and manic episodes. These phase-episode effects appear to be heterogeneous and may have implications for treatment. Whether they might best be described using course specifiers, similar to postpartum onset and rapid cycling, or as diagnostic entities, like PMDD, requires further study.