There are significant differences between the incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms between males and females. A recent review found that females report having more severe GI health problems compared to males. One explanation for the higher reporting rates of GI symptoms in females could be attributed to menstrual cycle influences rather than GI processes.

This research aims to examine the relationship between how gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms experienced by women covary with the different stages of the menstrual cycle. Additionally, a secondary purpose is to determine the moderating effect of health anxiety on the severity of menstrual and GI symptoms.

Responses were collected and analyzed from 531 eligible participants using an anonymous online survey. The survey encompassed the GI-PROMIS scales, Health Anxiety Inventory, Pain Map, a Physiological profile assessment, and demographic items. Participants were placed into one of three Groups relating to their phase in the menstrual cycle.

It was hypothesized that higher GI symptom levels and higher belly pain ratings would be observed during the menstrual and luteal groups rather than in the follicular groups. These differences will be observed after controlling for levels of health anxiety. Individuals with greater menstrual and premenstrual symptoms are hypothesized to indicate increased pain in the Hypogastric region, which includes the female reproductive organs.

There were no significant multivariate differences between the Groups on the GI PROMIS scales or the Pain Map, which indicates that when these multiple variables were used together, they did not discriminate between the phases of menstrual cycle in healthy young women with regular 28-day periods. The findings of the Menstrual Group having significantly higher Belly Pain scores and higher Pain ratings at the hypogastric region (Region H) suggest that the increased GI PROMIS Belly Pain T-score elevations are likely to originate from the hypogastric region (Region H) and are related to the menstrual cycle. Additionally, the results showed that health anxiety is a significant moderating variable in women's reporting of GI symptoms and Pain ratings, which suggests a possible mechanism for the previously documented sex differences in GI symptom reporting.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Cassisi, Jeffrey


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Clinical Psychology



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date