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Fluctuating Hearing with Menstruation

There have been sporadic reports, over the years, of particular individuals whose hearing seems to fluctuate noticeably in relation to the menstrual cycle, but systematic study has been rare. A number of studies have shown variation in certain aspects of research regarding neural transmission of sound from the ear to the brain, but actual changes in threshold sensitivity are not well documented.

A group of investigators in Spain recently compared hearing thresholds pre and post menstruation in 60 women. There were significant changes only at 9000, 10,000, and 11,200 Hz, which is outside the range of frequencies (pitches) that are critical for everyday listening.

The possibility that there may be significant changes in all cycling females is unlikely in view of the recent study by Yellin & Stillman (1999). These investigators performed non-invasive tests of inner-ear status on a group of woman during a 12-week timeframe. No systematic changes were observed. Since the tests used were very sensitive to the inner ear, any threshold variations seen in the hearing of those studied would have to be attributed to some other location(s) along the transmission sites between the ear and brain.

In summary, I would not be surprised to find slight changes in an individual, but would have to regard it as an exceptional circumstance warranting careful diagnostic evaluation.

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