Certain weeks of a woman’s menstrual cycle may offer better chances of success in smoking cessation, according to new findings. The likelihood of success was found to be lower when smoking cessation fell on a woman’s follicular phase – the first half of the cycle.
Lead author Reagan Wetherill said, “Understanding how menstrual cycle phase affects neural processes, cognition, and behavior is a critical step in developing more effective treatments and in selecting the best, most individualized treatment options to help each cigarette smoker quit.”
Previous research found that during a woman’s follicular phase, women had heightened responses to smoking cues in reward-related areas of the brain.
The latest study included 38 female smokers who were not on hormonal contraceptives. The women underwent scans to assess how regions of the brain that help control behavior are functionally connected to regions of the brain that signal reward.
Some of the women were in their follicular phase, while others were in their luteal phase (after ovulation). Those in the follicular phase had reduced functional connectivity between two key regions of the brain – which could make it harder to quit smoking.
Women suffer worse health problems related to smoking compared to men, with a 25 percent greater risk of heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Senior author Teresa Franklin said, “The results from this study become extremely important as we look for more ways to help the over 40 million individuals in the U.S. alone addicted to cigarettes. When we learn that something as simple as timing a quit date may impact a woman’s cessation success, it helps us to provide more individualized treatment strategies for individuals who are struggling with addiction.”
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on Simple solution for common aging problem for women.