Journal of Applied Physiology

Influence of menstrual cycle on shivering, skin blood flow, and sweating responses measured at night

V. Hessemer, K. Bruck


In 10 women, external cold and heat exposures were performed both in the middle of luteal phase (L) and in the early follicular phase (F) of the menstrual cycle. Serum progesterone concentrations in L and F averaged 46.0 and 0.9 nmol X l-1, respectively. The experiments took place between 3:00 and 4:30 A.M., when the L-F core temperature difference is maximal. At neutral ambient temperature, esophageal (Tes), tympanic (Tty), rectal (Tre), and mean skin (Tsk) temperatures averaged 0.59 degrees C higher in L than in F. The thresholds for shivering, chest sweating, and cutaneous vasodilation (heat clearance technique) at the thumb and forearm were increased in L by an average of 0.47 degrees C, related to mean body temperature [Tb(es) = 0.87Tes + 0.13 Tsk] and to Tes, Tty, Tre, or Tsk. The above-threshold chest sweat rate and cutaneous heat clearances at the thumb and forearm were also enhanced in L, when related to Tb(es) or time. The metabolic rate, arm blood flow, and heart rate at thermoneutral conditions were increased in L by 5.0%, 1.1 ml X 100 ml-1 X min-1, and 4.6 beats X min-1, respectively. The concomitant increase in threshold temperatures for all autonomic thermoregulatory responses in L supports the concept of a resetting of the set point underlying the basal body temperature elevation in L. The effects of the increased threshold temperatures are counteracted by enhanced heat loss responses.