Borlimi, R., Buattini, M., Riboli, G., Nese, M., Brighetti, G., Giunti, D., & Vescovelli, F. ( (2023) Menstrual cycle symptomatology during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of interoceptive sensibility and psychological health 2023 – Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology – Volume 14, May 2023, 100182


The literature on the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of investigating its impact on mental health during this sensitive period, also in relation to the female menstrual cycle. To this end, interceptive sensibility has emerged as a fundamental construct for studying the mind-body interaction among psychosomatic and pain symptoms, particularly through the distinction between two attentional styles (namely, a “mindful” and a “non-mindful” sensibility). The aim of the following study is to verify the role of mental health and interoceptive sensibility on menstrual symptoms in women of childbearing age, during the pandemic, as well as to identify the specific contribution of the existing dimensions of interoceptive sensibility in the prediction of symptoms’ severity. Data were collected through an online survey, for which 5294 women responded on demographic information, menstrual history, symptoms’ disturbance, and completed the Italian versions of the GHQ-12 and the MAIA. The analyses showed that symptoms were strongly correlated to either the GHQ-12 and the MAIA subscales Noticing, Emotional Awareness, Trusting and Not-Worrying. This result was further verified via a hierarchical regression, which revealed that the same interoceptive dimensions and mental health strongly predicted the intensity of menstrual symptoms (R2 = 0.177, ΔR2 = 0.143) compared to other considered dimensions (R2 = 0.180, ΔR2 = 0.002). Results are partially in line with the premises but suggest that mental health has a strong impact on the experience of the menstrual cycle and that only a few interoceptive dimensions may be relevant in explaining the severity of menstrual symptoms. It is here suggested that noticing internal bodily signals and being aware of emotional states might become dysfunctional if not reconciled with a good ability to self-regulate internal states, but may rather contribute to the perpetuation of the ‘vicious cycle’ of heightened affective and attentional reactions to interoceptive sensations.