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Daily, weekly, seasonal and menstrual cycles in women’s mood, behaviour and vital signs

Abstract

Dimensions of human mood, behaviour and vital signs cycle over multiple timescales. However, it remains unclear which dimensions are most cyclical, and how daily, weekly, seasonal and menstrual cycles compare in magnitude. The menstrual cycle remains particularly understudied because, not being synchronized across the population, it will be averaged out unless menstrual cycles can be aligned before analysis. Here, we analyse 241 million observations from 3.3 million women across 109 countries, tracking 15 dimensions of mood, behaviour and vital signs using a women’s health mobile app. Out of the daily, weekly, seasonal and menstrual cycles, the menstrual cycle had the greatest magnitude for most of the measured dimensions of mood, behaviour and vital signs. Mood, vital signs and sexual behaviour vary most substantially over the course of the menstrual cycle, while sleep and exercise behaviour remain more constant. Menstrual cycle effects are directionally consistent across countries.

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Fig. 1: Overview of the dataset.
Fig. 2: Decomposition of women’s mood, behaviour and vital signs into daily, weekly, seasonal and menstrual cycles.
Fig. 3: Premenstrual mood effects are directionally consistent across countries.
Fig. 4: Premenstrual effects change with age for happy–sad mood, RHR, BBT and weight.

Data availability

Data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author (J.L.) with appropriate permission from Clue. The data are not publicly available to preserve the privacy of Clue users.

Code availability

Code to reproduce the findings of this study is available at https://github.com/epierson9/four-cycles.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank D. Jurafsky, P. Wei Koh, S. Li, A. Mastrioanni, M. Mateen, L. Pierson, R. Pierson, N. Roth, C. Ruiz, R. Sosic, P. Thaker, C. Yau, M. Zitnik and J. Zou for helpful comments. For financial support, they thank the Hertz and NDSEG Fellowships; the SAP Stanford Graduate Fellowship; NIH grant U54 EB020405; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (INV-004841); the Stanford Data Science Initiative; NSF Grants IIS-1901386; OAC-1835598 (CINES), OAC-1934578 (HDR), CCF-1918940 (Expeditions) and IIS-2030477 (RAPID); Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute; and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. J.L. is a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub investigator.

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E.P. performed the statistical analysis. E.P., T.A., D.T., P.H. and J.L. jointly analysed the results and wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Jure Leskovec.

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E.P. is employed by Microsoft Research. D.T. is employed by Clue by BioWink GmbH. P.H. is on the medical advisory board of Clue by BioWink GmbH. All other authors declare no competing interests.

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Pierson, E., Althoff, T., Thomas, D. et al. Daily, weekly, seasonal and menstrual cycles in women’s mood, behaviour and vital signs. Nat Hum Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-01046-9

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