The prevalence of cyclic and week-to-week affective change was prospectively assessed over two consecutive menstrual cycles in a nonclinical sample of 101 employed women. Although 40% perceived themselves to have premenstrual syndrome (PMS), none showed a recurrent pattern of marked premenstrual affective change. Marked affective change was as likely to occur in the postmenstrual as the premenstrual phase. Weekly marked change was as prevalent as cyclic change. Although social health (perceived quantity and quality of interpersonal relationships) and subjective stress consistently predicted both cyclic and weekly affective states, the contribution of social health was 10 times greater than that of stress. The role of social health requires further examination, as does the widespread misuse of the PMS label to account for occasional changes in affect.
An abbreviated version of this article was presented at the American Psychological Association Conference, 'Psychosocial and behavioral factors in women's health: creating an agenda for the 21st century', in Washington, DC, May 1994. This research was supported by a grant from the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. The study was conducted during the author's doctoral candidacy at the University of Melbourne.