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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 May;88(5):1643-9.

Estrogen modifies the temperature effects of progesterone.

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The John B. Pierce Laboratory and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06519, USA.


To test the hypothesis that progestin-mediated increases in resting core temperature and the core temperature threshold for sweating onset are counteracted by estrogen, we studied eight women (24 +/- 2 yr) at 27 degrees C rest, during 20 min of passive heating (35 degrees C), and during 40 min of exercise at 35 degrees C. Subjects were tested four times, during the early follicular and midluteal menstrual phases, after 4 wk of combined estradiol-norethindrone (progestin) oral contraceptive administration (OC E+P), and after 4 wk of progestin-only oral contraceptive administration (OC P). The order of the OC P and OC E+P were randomized. Baseline esophageal temperature (T(es)) at 27 degrees C was higher (P < 0.05) in the luteal phase (37.08 +/- 0.21 degrees C) and in OC P (37.60 +/- 0.31 degrees C) but not during OC E+P (37.04 +/- 0.23 degrees C) compared with the follicular phase (36.66 +/- 0.21 degrees C). T(es) remained above follicular phase levels throughout passive heating and exercise during OC P, whereas T(es) in the luteal phase was greater than in the follicular phase throughout exercise (P < 0.05). The T(es) threshold for sweating was also greater in the luteal phase (38.02 +/- 0.28 degrees C) and OC P (38.07 +/- 0.17 degrees C) compared with the follicular phase (37.32 +/- 0.11 degrees C) and OC E+P (37.46 +/- 0.18 degrees C). Progestin administration raised the T(es) threshold for sweating during OC P, but this effect was not present when estrogen was administered with progestin, suggesting that estrogen modifies progestin-related changes in temperature regulation. These data are also consistent with previous findings that estrogen lowers the thermoregulatory operating point.

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