The effect of the steroid sex hormones on the nasal airway during the normal menstrual cycle1


  • 1

    Presented to the British Academic Conference in Otorhinolaryngology at Birmingham in July 2003.

C. M. Philpott, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich, Norfolk NRU 7UY, UK (e-mail:


The changes in the nasal mucosa during the menstrual cycle have been little researched and the role of oestrogens debated. The aim of this study was to measure a spectrum of physiological parameters in relation to the peak and trough of these hormonal levels. Ten women underwent measurements at the onset of menses and at the time of ovulation. On each occasion, anterior rhinoscopy, peak inspiratory nasal flow, acoustic rhinometry, anterior rhinomanometry, mucociliary clearance time and rhinitis questionnaire score were recorded. All measurements except anterior rhinoscopy showed a difference between the two readings consistent with nasal congestion at the peri-ovulatory stage of the cycle, of which anterior rhinomanometry and mucociliary time were significant (P ≤ 0.05). Nasal congestion therefore occurs in conjunction with the rise in serum oestrogens that occur at ovulation in the normal menstrual cycle. Pharmacological antagonism of oestrogens may therefore relieve nasal congestion and is currently under further research.