The effect of menstrual cycle phase on arterial elasticity is controversial. In 10 healthy women (20.6 ± 1.5 years old, mean ±s.d.), we investigated the variations in central and peripheral arterial elasticity, blood pressure (carotid and brachial), carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), and serum oestradiol and progesterone concentrations at five points in the menstrual cycle (menstrual, M; follicular, F; ovulatory, O; early luteal, EL; and late luteal, LL). Carotid arterial compliance (simultaneous ultrasound and applanation tonometry) varied cyclically, with significant increases from the values seen in M (0.164 ± 0.036 mm2 mmHg-1) and F (0.171 ± 0.029 mm2 mmHg-1) to that seen in the O phase (0.184 ± 0.029 mm2 mmHg -1). Sharp declines were observed in the EL (0.150 ± 0.033 mm2 mmHg-1) and LL phases (0.147 ± 0.026 mm 2 mmHg-1; F = 8.51, P < 0.05). Pulse wave velocity in the leg (i.e. peripheral arterial stiffness) did not exhibit any significant changes. Fluctuations in carotid arterial elasticity correlated with the balance between oestradiol and progesterone concentrations. No significant changes were found in carotid and brachial blood pressures, carotid artery lumen diameter, or IMT throughout the menstrual cycle. These data provide evidence that the elastic properties of central, but not peripheral, arteries fluctuate significantly with the phases of the menstrual cycle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas