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Prospective vs. retrospective self-reports of menstrual cycle symptoms and moods in users and nonusers of oral contraceptives were investigated. Subjects, aged from 17 to 27 years, included 56 women on the pill and 47 nonusers. The Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ) quantified physical symptomatology, while the Differential Emotions Scale (DES-IV) measured emotional states. Prospective reports suggested less discernible symptom and mood effects than did retrospective reports. Physical symptoms were significantly higher menstrually than premenstrually, whereas negative affects increased premenstrually. Women on the pill reported significantly fewer symptoms and negative moods than nonusers, although there were no significant differences in positive mood states. Menstrual Attitude Questionnaire (MAQ) scores suggested that nonusers of oral contraceptives found menstruation more debilitating them those "on the pill."
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