Extinction retention and the menstrual cycle: Different associations for women with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The propensity to acquire and retain conditioned fear responses may contribute to the risk of developing and maintaining posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a traumatic event. There is growing evidence that the gonadal hormones estrogen and progesterone are associated with how well women retain extinction of previously conditioned fear responses. Thus, sex steroid effects may contribute to the increased prevalence of PTSD in women. For the current study, 32 nonmedicated female trauma survivors with and without PTSD completed a differential fear conditioning task both during the early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle when estradiol and progesterone levels are low, and during the midluteal phase when estradiol and progesterone levels are high. Skin conductance served as the measure of conditioned fear. Women with PTSD, compared to those without, showed impaired retention of extinction learning in the midluteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Therefore, the impact of menstrual phase on extinction retention may differ between women with and without PTSD. These findings raise potential considerations regarding the coordination of psychopharmacologic and trauma exposure-based treatments for PTSD with specific phases of the menstrual cycle.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Pineles, SL; Nillni, YI; King, MW; Patton, SC; Bauer, MR; Mostoufi, SM; Gerber, MR; Hauger, R; Resick, PA; Rasmusson, AM; Orr, SP

Published Date

  • April 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 125 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 349 - 355

PubMed ID

  • 26866677

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1846

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/abn0000138


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States