Does menstrual cycle phase affect lung diffusion capacity during exercise?

Joshua R. Smith, Kelly R. Brown, Jill D. Murphy, Craig A. Harms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resting lung diffusing capacity (DLCO) decreases during the early and late-follicular phases of the menstrual cycle presumably due to capillary blood volume (VC) changes; however, it is not known if these differences exist during exercise. We hypothesized that DLCO would increase during the mid-luteal phase of the menstrual cycle due to increases in VC. Eight normally menstruating females (21.4±0.7yrs) were studied. Subjects completed a discontinuous treadmill VO2max test during the early-follicular (EF), late-follicular (LF), and mid-luteal (ML) phases of the menstrual cycle. Metabolic measurements were made from a breath-by-breath automated cart, and DLCO via the single-breath exhalation technique during exercise. During exercise, DLCO was lesser during EF compared to ML at 90% and 100%VO2max (p<0.05) (90%: 37.8±3.7EF vs 41.6±4.0ML, 100%: 37.7±3.7EF vs 42.6±4.3MLmL/mmHg/min). VC was significantly greater during the ML phase when compared to the EF at 80%, 90%, and 100%VO2max. These results demonstrate DLCO and VC are influenced by the menstrual cycle during heavy exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Exercise
  • Lung diffusion capacity
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Pulmonary blood volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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