Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Accepted version

Boyle, G. J. (1997). Effects of menstrual cycle moods and symptoms on academic performance: A study of senior secondary school students. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 67(1), 37-49

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© Copyright John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997. All rights reserved.




Background: Menstrual cycle moods and symptoms may well play a discernible role in the academic performance of some post-pubescent adolescent female students.

Aims: It was expected that menstrually related moods and symptoms would have both negative and positive influences on academic learning outcomes, and that the magnitude of these effects would be directly proportional to the salience of such moods and symptoms across the monthly cycle.

Samples: The sample comprised 427 post-pubescent female students (Years 10, 11, and 12) attending a number of senior secondary schools within the Melbourne metropolitan area, Australia.

Methods: Given the sensitivity of conducting such a study, combined with the logistical difficulties of obtaining prospective data within school settings, retrospective Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ) scores were related to the previous end-of-year academic grades across a wide range of 18 senior school subjects. Despite the conservative design constraints and associated data analyses (correlations were not corrected for attenuation), some systematic effects were observed.

Results: At the premenstrual, menstrual, and intermenstrual phases, moods and symptoms significantly predicted grades in 14 per cent, 7 per cent, and 13 per cent of instances, respectively. Although most significant relationships were negative, scores on the MDQ Arousal scale for the intermenstrual phase positively predicted grades in English Literature, (general) Mathematics, Art and Craft, History, Mathematics 1, and Study of Society.

Conclusions: Evidently, menstrual cycle variables play a small, but discernible role on academic learning outcomes, contributing both positively and negatively to performance. Future, prospective studies are now needed to provide a more definitive account of menstrual cycle influences on academic performance.

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