PREMENSTRUAL SYMPTOMS AS A MARKER OF OVARIAN HORMONE SENSITIVITY IN EATING DISORDERS
Sabrina L. Hardin, Laura M. Thornton, Melissa A. Munn-Chernoff, Jessica H Baker
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States
Eating disorder (ED) symptoms fluctuate predictably across the menstrual cycle as ovarian hormones change. This suggests women with an ED may be sensitive to normally fluctuating ovarian hormones. Premenstrual symptoms (PMS), which occur the week prior to menses, are caused by normal change in ovarian hormones; thus, may indicate ovarian hormone sensitivity. We test this by examining the association between 11 domains of PMS (e.g., depressed mood, appetite change) and 4 ED symptoms: binge eating (BE), body dissatisfaction (BD), restriction (RES), and purging (PUR). Subjects were 455 young adult women (M=19 years;SD=1.4) who completed an online survey. There were significant correlations between a majority of ED symptoms and PMS (r’s=.09-.37;p<.05). Stepwise regression, including relevant covariates (e.g., BMI), revealed significant (p<.05) PMS predictors for each symptom; BE (R2=.18): BMI, decreased interest in usual activities, concentration problems, appetite change; BD (R2=.22): BMI, depressed mood, appetite change; RES (R2=.15): depressed mood, feel overwhelmed; PUR (R2=.07): BMI, feel overwhelmed. Exploratorily, we repeated regressions excluding PMS appetite change. For BD, affective lability entered the model; for BE, affective lability replaced decreased interest. PUR and RES were unchanged. As hypothesized, PMS may be a marker of ovarian hormone sensitivity in women with an ED. Future studies should address mechanisms underlying this sensitivity.