Skip to main content Accessibility help

Food craving, mood and the menstrual cycle

  • John Bancroft (a1), Ann Cook (a1) and Lynn Williamson (a1)


Seventy-six women, with a mean age of 35–7 years, who reported premenstrual craving for sweet foods in a retrospective questionnaire, were assessed prospectively with a pre- and postmenstrual eating questionnaire and daily ratings of craving, mood, irritability and breast tenderness over two menstrual cycles.

In 72 % of these women a perimenstrual pattern of food craving was confirmed. In 13 % this craving was confined to the menstrual phase. There was no consistent association between food craving and mood change, either in timing or severity. Women with more severe mood change did not report more severe craving. There was also no association between food craving and cyclical breast tenderness. Perimenstrual food craving, therefore, appears to be a cyclical phenomenon in its own right, of uncertain aetiology and worthy of further study.


Corresponding author

1 Address for correspondence: Dr John Bancroft, MRC Reproductive Biology Unit, 37 Chalmers Street, Edinburgh EH3 9EW.


Hide All
Bancroft, J. & Bäckström, T. (1985). Premenstrual syndrome. Clinical Endocrinology 22, 313336.
Cohen, I. T., Sherwin, B. B. & Fleming, A. S. (1987). Food cravings, mood and the menstrual cycle. Hormones and Behavior 21, 457470.
Dalvit, S. P. (1981). The effect of the menstrual cycle on patterns of food intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 34, 18111815.
Dalvit-McPhillips, S. P. (1983). The effect of the human menstruation cycle on the nutrient intake. Physiology and Behaviour 31, 209212.
Gladis, M. M. & Walsh, B. T. (1987). Premenstrual exacerbation of binge eating in bulimia. American Journal of Psychiatry 144, 15921595.
Hargrove, J. T. & Abraham, G. E. (1982). The incidence of premenstrual tension in a gynaecological clinic. Journal of Reproductive Medicine 2, 721724.
Henderson, M. & Freeman, C. P. L. (1987). A self-rating scale for bulimia – the ‘BITE’. British Journal of Psychiatry 150, 1824.
Huon, G. F. & Brown, L. B. (1984). Bulimia: the emergence of a syndrome. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 18, 113126.
Pliner, P. & Fleming, A. S. (1983). Food intake, body weight and sweetness preferences over the menstrual cycle in humans. Psychology and Behavior 30, 663666.
Reid, R. L., Greenaway-Coates, A. & Habin, P. M. (1986). Oral glucose tolerance during the menstrual cycle in normal women with alleged premenstrual hypoglycemic attacks: effects of naloxone. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 62, 11671172.
Sanders, D., Warner, P., Bäckström, T. & Bancroft, J. (1983). Mood, sexuality, hormones and the menstrual cycle. I. Changes in mood and physical state: description of subjects and method. Psychosomatic Medicine 45, 487507.
Wade, G. N. (1976). Sex hormones, regulatory behaviours and body weight. In Advances in the Study of Behaviour 6. (ed. Rosenblatt, J. S.Hinde, R. A.Shaw, E. and Beer, C.), pp. 201278. Academic Press: New York.
Warner, P. & Bancroft, J. (1988). In preparation.
Yim, G. K. W. & Lowy, M. T. (1984). Opioids, feeding and anorexias. Federation Proceedings 43, 28932897.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed