According to a new research project, women with higher levels of oestrogen are protecting their mental health from being affected by trauma.
Neuroscientists at Harvard and Emory University, reported their findings that high levels of oestrogen could be helping a women avoid mood disorders while conversely, women are more likely to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder if they are exposed to trauma at particular times of their menstrual cycle.
Men do not appear to show drastically different responses to stress, anxiety or a traumatic event as their bodies are constantly converting small amounts of testosterone into oestrogen. This is also the rationale behind why they do not appear to have extreme fluctuations in mood.
This latest study found that both healthy women and female rat samples with higher levels of oestrogen have the ability to calm the fear response.
The study was based around fear conditioning. Researchers conditioned the participants to colourer shaped and paired these with unconditioned frightening or painful stimuli such as a puff of air or a small electrical pulse to the finger. It was reported that women with higher levels of oestrogen in their blood were less likely to act in a feared way.
This builds on previous research that has suggested that giving women who have been exposed to trauma should be given the morning after pill usually prescribed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, however, the instantaneous, high levels of oestrogen could also aid women recover and overcome the event they have been exposed to.