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Abstract

Muscle tension as a function of sympathetic arousal may play a causal or contributory role in symptomatology in the premenstruum. The purpose of this study was to determine whether women exhibit an increase in muscle tension in the premenstrual phase over that in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, and whether the incidence and severity of premenstrual symptoms were associated with premenstrual muscle tension. A sample of 22 women with variable levels of predicted premenstrual symptomatology was chosen. A report of symptoms was obtained in the premenstrual and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle. Frontalis and trapezius muscle tension levels also were obtained during these cycle phases, during relaxation, and during focus on an emotional image. A difference was found in the subjects' premenstrual and follicular phase frontalis electromyogram (EMG) levels both in the initial relaxation period and while focusing on an emotional image. A significant positive correlation was found between the premenstrual physiologic symptoms women predicted they would have and the premenstrual frontalis EMG levels measured during relaxation. The results suggest that training in muscle tension reduction may benefit premenstrual symptoms.