Hormones affect quit smoking success

  • Olivia Fens

A women’s menstrual cycle can influence her success in quitting smoking.

According to a new study, women were more likely to quit and resist temptation after ovulation.

The study authors, writing in the journal Addiction, said the differing levels of female sex hormones were to blame.

The researchers looked at 202 women, who were asked to give up smoking either in the ‘follicular’ stage of their cycle - the period leading up to ovulation, when an egg is produced by the ovary, or the ‘luteal’ stage, the roughly two-week stage that completes the cycle.

After 30 days, 86% of the women who quit smoking during their follicular phase had ‘relapsed’, and smoked at least one cigarette.

This compared to 66% of the group who had started in their luteal phase.

The researchers said the precise reason for the result remained unclear, but suggested that hormone differences linked to the different menstrual phases could affect the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms felt by quitters.

They add that although the menstrual cycle effect was relatively small, smoking cessation is so important and difficult, every possible advantage should be exploited.

A spokesman for the charity Quit said on BBC: “Women reading this report shouldn't panic about the findings, as there's lots of help available regardless of the time of the month.”

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