Vascular reactivity in men and women of reproductive age

Lucy Bowyer, Mark A. Brown, Mike Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to document vascular reactivity in both phases of normal menstrual cycles and anovulatory cycles of women receiving oral contraceptives and to compare vascular reactivity of women in the follicular phase of the normal menstrual cycle with that of men of a similar age group.

STUDY DESIGN: Forearm blood flow was measured with plethysmography in 15 women with ovulatory cycles during the follicular and luteal phases of the normal cycle, at equivalent times in 14 women receiving oral contraceptives, and in 15 age-matched men. Changes in forearm blood flow, an index of vascular reactivity, were measured during a randomly ordered brachial artery infusion schedule of norepinephrine, sodium nitroprusside, angiotensin II, and Nomega-monomethyl-L -arginine and were analyzed with repeated measures analysis of variance.

RESULTS: Forearm blood flow responses were similar in the two phases of the normal cycle. Responses were similar between women with ovulatory cycles and users of oral contraceptives, apart from a significantly greater response to angiotensin II in the oral contraceptive group during the medication phase than during the withdrawal phase (P =.027). Basal forearm blood flow was higher in men than in women (7 +/- 1.6 vs 5 +/- 1.4 mL/100 mL per minute; P =.015), and men demonstrated a significantly greater vasoconstrictor response to norepinephrine (P <.05) than did women.

CONCLUSION: Vascular reactivity is similar in the two phases of the normal menstrual cycle, but women who use oral contraceptives have an exaggerated response to angiotensin II during the medication phase. Men demonstrate greater vascular reactivity to norepinephrine than do women, perhaps because of the lack of estrogen-mediated protective effects and increased adrenergic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-96
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Aldosterone
  • Angiotensin II
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Brachial Artery
  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Estradiol
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intra-Arterial
  • Luteal Phase
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitroprusside
  • Norepinephrine
  • Ovulation
  • Progesterone
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • omega-N-Methylarginine
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Vascular reactivity in men and women of reproductive age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this