Patterns and prevalence of medication use across the menstrual cycle among healthy, reproductive aged women

Kristen A. Johnson, Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Sunni L. Mumford, Rebecca A. Garbose, Karen C. Schliep, Donald Mattison, Neil J. Perkins, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Enrique F. Schisterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to characterize the patterns of medication intake in healthy, reproductive-age women not using hormonal contraception. Methods: Two hundered fifty-nine healthy, premenopausal women (18–44 years of age) enrolled in the BioCycle Study (2005–2007) were followed over two menstrual cycles. Women were excluded if they were currently using oral contraceptives or other chronic medications. Over-the-counter and prescription medication use among participants was evaluated daily throughout the study via a diary assessing type of medication, dosage, units, and frequency. Medications were categorized as allergy, antibiotics, central nervous system (CNS), cold and cough, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and pain medication based on primary active ingredient. Medication use within each category was assessed across standardized 28-day cycles to evaluate differences in use across cycle phases (i.e., early, middle, and late). Results: Medication use was reported by 73% of participants. The most and least frequently used medications, respectively, were pain (69%) and musculoskeletal medications (1%). Pain, CNS, and antibiotic medication use varied significantly across the cycle, with pain and CNS medication more frequently reported during menses and antibiotics more frequently during the luteal phase. Allergy, cold and cough, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal medication use did not vary across the cycle. Conclusions: Patterns of medication use among reproductive age women vary across the menstrual cycle for certain types of medications, particularly in pain (e.g., Ibuprofen), antibiotics (e,g, Amoxicillin), and CNS (e.g., Adderall) medications. Future studies involving use of these types of medication in premenopausal women may need to consider the relationship of their use to the menstrual cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-627
Number of pages10
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • medication use
  • menstrual cycle
  • over-the-counter
  • pharmacoepidemiology
  • prescription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Epidemiology


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