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Multidiscip Respir Med. 2016 Aug 1;11:30. doi: 10.1186/s40248-016-0065-0. eCollection 2016.

Perimenstrual asthma: from pathophysiology to treatment strategies.

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Center of Gynecology and Medical Sexology, San Raffaele Resnati Hospital, Milan, Italy ; Via Enrico Panzacchi 6, 20123 Milan, Italy.
Gynecologist, Milan, Italy.


The prevalence of asthma is about 9,7 % in women and 5,5 % in men. Asthma can deteriorate during the perimenstrual period, a phenomenon known as perimenstrual asthma (PMA), which represents a unique, highly symptomatic asthma phenotype. It is distinguished from traditional allergic asthma by aspirin sensitivity, less atopy, and lower lung capacity. PMA incidence is reported to vary between 19 and 40 % of asthmatic women. The presence of PMA has been related to increases in asthma-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and emergency treatment including intubations. It is hypothesized that hormonal status may influence asthma in women, focusing on the role of sex hormones, and specifically on the impact of estrogens' fluctuations at ovulation and before periods. This paper will focus on the pathophysiology of hormone triggered cycle related inflammatory/allergic events and their relation with asthma. We reviewed the scientific literature on Pubmed database for studies on PMA. Key word were PMA, mastcells, estrogens, inflammation, oral contraception, hormonal replacement therapy (HRT), and hormone free interval (HFI). Special attention will be devoted to the possibility of reducing the perimenstrual worsening of asthma and associated symptoms by reducing estrogens fluctuations, with appropriate hormonal contraception and reduced HFI. This novel therapeutical approach will be finally discussed.


Estrogens; Hormone free interval; Inflammation; Mastcells; Menstrual asthma; Oral contraception

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