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PSYC 3480 (233)
Chapter 4

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PSYC 3480
Noreen Stuckless

Chapter Four Notes Psychology of Women PUBERTY AND MENSTRATION Puberty  Most girls enter puberty between ages 9-13 and have their first menarche at age 12  Black and Latina girls get it earlier than European American girls however Asian American girls get it later then European American Girls  Body weight and nutrition important factors  Women’s reactions vary widely in response to their first menarche  young girls who have someone to talk to are more positive about the experience  Around 10-11, girls begin to experience secondary sex characteristics change  breasts and pubic hair – sexual characteristics not involved in reproduction directly  Women accumulate body fat in the hips and thighs – often resented because of negative cultural attitudes with body fat Biological Aspects of the Menstrual Cycle  Hypothalamus monitors estrogen levels in the body  low estrogen makes hypothalamus signal pituitary gland  pituitary gland produces both follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone  FSH  acts on eggs to produce more estrogen and progesterone  LH  develops ovum / egg  Estrogen  produced in the ovaries helps promote the production of the uterine lining or endometrium  Progesterone  also produced in the ovaries, monitors this system  Ovaries walnut sized follicles that hold ova or eggs to produce estrogen and progesterone  14 day of menstruation, egg breaks out of follicle and ovulation begins. Eggs moves into fallopian tube then into the uterus where egg is either implanted into the uterine lining or if unfertilized then released as menstrual flow  The process of brain structure monitoring and the rise and fall of hormone levels is known as a feedback loop Menstrual Pain  Dysmenorrhea  menstrual pain typically the feeling of abdomen cramps, headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, pain in lower back  Do not confuse dysmenorrhea for PMS it is not the same  Contractions of the uterus caused by prostaglandins substances that body produces in high concentrations just before menstruation  Highly anxious women report having more menstrual pain then less anxious women  Menstrual pain probably caused by a combination of psychological and physiological reasons  Culturally, women of our society expect periods to be painful The Controversial Premenstrual Syndrome  Menstrual pain is expected by women during menstruation  Premenstrual syndrome  name given to the cyclical set of symptoms that may occur a few days before menstruating  Headaches, breast soreness, swelling, nausea, increased sensitivity to pain, allergies and acne, depression, irritability, anxiety, dizziness and low energy  PMS is controversial because the symptoms vary so vastly that researchers have no operational definition for it  Cannot be tested by blood tests, only journals or reports from the women experiencing various symptoms  Some researchers think that ALL women experience PMS while others think that we culturally constructed this myth Mood Swings  Most research that supports the concept of PMS is plagued by bias  Media reports women having extremely negative moods during PMS when in reality they are less extreme  Reason: since our cultural is so accustomed to the concept of PMS, women tend to clue into their emotions and over exaggerate their degree and blame the cause of them on PMS  Concept of PMS encourages people to think that women are at the mercy of their raging unpredictable hormones  Creates a sense of hesitation toward women
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