Author(s): Inoue Y, Tanaka Y, Omori K, Kuwahara T, Ogura Y,
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Abstract To examine sex- and menstrual cycle-related differences in thermoregulatory responses to heat exposure, ten young women and six young men were heated passively by immersing their legs in water heated to 42 degrees C for 60 min (in ambient conditions of 30 degrees C and 45\% relative humidity). The women underwent heat exposure during the mid-follicular (F) and mid-luteal (L) phases of the menstrual cycle, which were confirmed by assaying plasma female reproductive hormones. The rectal and mean body (T(b)) temperatures of women in the L phase were significantly greater than those of women in the F phase and of men during a pre-heating equilibration period (28 degrees C) and during heat exposure. During heat exposure, the local sweat rates (m(sw)) on the forehead, chest, back, and forearm of women in either phase were significantly lower than those of men, but the thigh (m(sw)) was similar to that of men. The m(sw) did not change at any site during the different phases of the menstrual cycle. The cutaneous blood flow (\%LDF) was significantly greater on the thigh for women in either phase compared with men, but no difference was found at any other site (forehead, chest, back, and forearm). The \%LDF on the back was significantly greater for women in the L phase than in the F phase, but those at other sites were similar in both phases. We conclude that, compared with men, heat loss from women depends more on cutaneous vasodilation (especially on the thigh) than on sweating, irrespective of the phase of the menstrual cycle. This phenomenon was due to peripheral mechanisms, as reflected in the greater slope of the relationship between \%LDF and T(b) lower slope of the relationship between m(sw)) and frequency of sweat expulsion, and lower sweat output per gland. The menstrual cycle modified the T(b) threshold for vasodilation and sweat onset in women. Therefore, the sex difference in the T(b) threshold was more marked for women during the L phase than during the F phase. Moreover, the menstrual cycle modified the slope of the relationship between \%LDF on the back and T(b).
This article was published in Eur J Appl Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics