Menstrual Cycle Research Network

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The Western Sydney University Menstrual Cycle Research Network (MCRN) comprises researchers at Western with a special interest in menstrual cycle research. We come from a range of backgrounds including public health, education, psychology, complementary medicine, business and exercise science.

At MCRN we are producing internationally recognised research across different fields of menstrual health including, dysmenorrhea and chronic pelvic pain, experiences and constructions of premenstrual syndrome, menstrual disorders including endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, the impact of exercise on the menstrual cycle and educational needs of young menstruators.

Our researchers draw on a wide range of research methodologies including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods and arts-based research approaches. Our vision for the network is to create a space where menstrual researchers, clinicians and advocates can collaborate and share our passion for menstrual research through guest speakers, workshops and other research activities.

Contact: Staff and students wanting to enquire about MCRN or who wish to join, please contact Dr Mike Armour at M.Armour@westernsydney.edu.au or Dr Alexandra Hawkey at a.hawkey@westernsydney.edu.au.


Academic leads:

Dr Mike Armour (opens in a new window)

Senior Research Fellow, THRI, NICM Health Research Institute

Mike is a Senior Research Fellow in Reproductive Health. His research has a strong focus on pelvic pain and endometriosis, and he is interested in improving menstrual health literacy to help reduce the impact of menstruation on people’s lives.

Dr Alex Hawkey (opens in a new window)

Research Fellow, THRI

Alex is a Research Fellow in women’s sexual and reproductive health, with nearly 10 years’ experience working on menstrual research. She is interested in how sociocultural contexts influence experiences of menarche, menstruation, menopause and management of endometriosis.

MCRN members:

Researchers

Emeritus Professor Caroline Smith (opens in a new window)
Caroline has background as a clinical researcher and has been a leading academic in the area of complementary medicine with a focus on women’s health at Western Sydney University. Her research has included leading clinical trials evaluating the role of complementary therapies to treat period pain, and she has also been the author of systematic reviews on this topic.  Her interests have broadened to include research examining the impact of period pain on the many aspects of womens’ lives, and to implement research findings that deliver impact to reducing the burden from period pain on women leading fulfilling and productive lives.


Professor Jane Ussher (opens in a new window)
Jane is Professor of Women’s Health Psychology, with 35 years of experience in menstruation research. Past President of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, and a trained clinical psychologist, Jane has expertise in premenstrual distress and menopause. She developed effective psychosocial interventions to reduce the impact of premenstrual distress, evaluated through randomised controlled trails, and has conducted mixed method research on the construction and meaning of menstruation and menopause.


Professor Janette Perz (opens in a new window)
Janette is a Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Translational Health Research Institute. She has undertaken significant programs of research in sexual and reproductive health including the experience of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), midlife and menopause, and fertility concerns during cancer with a particular focus on gendered experiences, subjectivity and identity.


Prof Kathryn Holmes (opens in a new window)
Kathryn is the Director of the Centre for Educational Research and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Education. She is interested in improving educational outcomes by understanding how schools and other educational institutions can promote menstrual health literacy through their teaching programs and school policies.


A/Prof Freya Macmillan (opens in a new window)
Freya is an Associate Professor in Interprofessional Health Sciences in the School of Health Science at Western Sydney University. Her research focuses on the development of health promotion program co-creation, implementation, evaluation and translation into ongoing policy and practice.


A/Prof Tania Ferfolja (opens in a new window)
Tania is Associate Professor in the School of Education / Centre for Educational Research at Western Sydney University. Her work focuses on equity in education particularly in relation to gender and sexuality diversities (GSD) in curricula, policy, pedagogy, education and employment practices in Australia and internationally. She is currently the lead researcher on an ARC discovery grant entitled: ‘Gender and Sexuality Diversity in Schools. Parent Experiences and Schooling Responses.


A/Prof Emilee Gilbert (opens in a new window)
Emilee is a feminist sociologist whose research expertise is in gender equity, sexuality, and health. Emilee has a particular interest in women’s health with her past work focusing on young women’s experiences of cigarette smoking, as well as cancer and sexuality. More recently, Emilee’s research interests are in women’s experiences of mothering and paid work.


Dr Tania Perich (opens in a new window)
Tania is a psychologist and Senior Lecturer working in the School of Psychiatry.  She has an interest in the impact of reproductive life events on women's mental health. She researches the impact of menopause for women living with bipolar disorder.


Dr Christina Curry (opens in a new window)
Christina is a senior researcher in the field of Health Education & Physical Education with a focus on curriculum and pedagogy. Her work extends to the effectiveness of health interventions within secondary schools with funded projects in menstrual health literacy.


Dr Carolyn Ee (opens in a new window)
Carolyn is a GP and Senior Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute. Her research vision is to have a measurable impact on the lives of people with chronic illness. Her major research focus is on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, particularly the use of acupuncture and mind-body therapies to manage weight loss, and translation of evidence into practice in primary care.


Dr Michelle O’Shea (opens in a new window)
Michelle is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Business, Western Sydney University. Her research focus is directed at illuminating and problematising issues relevant to gender inequity, diversity and inclusion in institutional contexts (sport, health and education).


Dr Sarah Duffy (opens in a new window)
Sarah is a Senior Lecturer from the School of Business. The focus of her research is issues relating to gender and social equity in the workplace and the impact of marketing on society.


Dr Chloe Taylor (opens in a new window)
Chloe is an exercise scientist specialising in women’s physiology. She provides expertise in the impacts of the menstrual cycle on physical aspects of well-being, specifically the effects of menstruation on energy levels, exercise capacity, and the control of body temperature and blood pressure.


Dr Kylie A Steel (opens in a new window)
Dr Kylie A Steel is a movement learning scientist with a background teaching in schools and exploring the factors that influence movement learning and perception for different populations. Specifically, Kylie has examined the efficacy of self-modelling in learning and the cues used by observers to identify others based on form and motion. More recently her work includes exploring the eye movement behaviours of elite athletes with an interest in female athletes and the impact of the menstrual cycle on performance.

HDR Candidates

Monique Foster
Thesis title: “The effects of sex and age on autonomic control of blood pressure and the transduction of sympathetic nerve activity to vascular responses.”


Andrew Proudfoot
Thesis title: Endometriosis and Endocannabinoid System Modulation: optimising insurance medicine in a cannabinoid medicine context for Australian patients


Donna Ciccia
Thesis title: Indigenous Peoples Experience and Understanding of Menstrual Health


Alison Maunder
Thesis title: The role of naturopathy in the management of women with diminished ovarian reserve.


Vibhuti Rao
Thesis title: Culturally appropriate care for ethnic Indian women with PCOS; role of yoga and Ayurveda


Samantha Ryan
Thesis title: Women’s experiences of the premenstrual body


Justin Sinclair
Thesis title: The safety, tolerability and effectiveness of medicinal cannabis for endometriosis pain and related symptoms: A mixed methods project.

Research

Current Projects and Research Foci

Coming soon

Recent Key Publications

  1. Alesi S, Ee C, Moran L, Rao V, Mousa A. Nutritional Supplements and Complementary Therapies in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Advances in Nutrition. 2021;accepted 16/11/21.
  2. Ee C, Pirotta S, Mousa A, Moran L, Lim S. Providing lifestyle advice to women with PCOS: an overview of practical issues affecting success. BMC Endocr Disord. 2021
  3. Ryan, S., Ussher, J. M., & Hawkey, A. (2021). Managing the premenstrual body: A body mapping study of women’s negotiation of premenstrual food cravings and exercise. Journal of Eating Disorders, 9(1), 125. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-021-00478-6
  4. Perich, T., & Ussher, J. (2022). Stress predicts depression symptoms for women living with bipolar disorder during the menopause transition. Menopause. 29 (2), 231-235
  5. Perich, T., Fraser, I., & Ussher, J. (2021). “Extreme emotions”-the impact of reproductive life events for women living with bipolar disorder. Health Care for Women International, 1-14.
  6. Perich, T., Ussher, J., Fraser, I., & Perz, J. (2021). Quality of life and psychological symptoms for women with bipolar disorder–a comparison between reproductive, menopause transition and post-menopause phases. Maturitas, 143, 72-77.
  7. Hawkey, A., Ussher, J.M., Perz, J. et al. Talking but not always understanding: couple communication about infertility concerns after cancer. BMC Public Health 21, 161 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10188-y
  8. Ussher JM, Perz J, Hawkey AJ. A randomized controlled evaluation of an educational resource to address fertility concerns after cancer. Psychooncology. 2021 Sep;30(9):1442-1448. doi: 10.1002/pon.5703. Epub 2021 Apr 21. PMID: 33860553.
  9. Hawkey, A.J., Ussher, J.M., Perz, J., Parton, C., Patterson, P., Bateson, D., Hobbs, K. and Kirsten, L., 2021. The impact of cancerÔÇÉrelated fertility concerns on current and future couple relationships: People with cancer and partner perspectives. European journal of cancer care, 30(1), p.e13348.
  10. Sinclair, Armour, Akowuah, Proudfoot, & Armour. (2022). Should I Inhale?;Perceptions, Barriers, and Drivers for Medicinal Cannabis Use amongst Australian Women with Primary Dysmenorrhoea: A Qualitative Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(3), 1536. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/3/1536
  11. Malik, Sinclair, Ng, Smith, Abbott, & Armour. (2022). Allied health and complementary therapy usage in Australian women with chronic pelvic pain: a cross-sectional study. BMC Women's Health, 22(1), 37. doi:10.1186/s12905-022-01618-z
  12. Sinclair, Toufaili, Gock, Pegorer, Wattle, Franke, . . . Armour. (2021). Cannabis Use for Endometriosis: Clinical and Legal Challenges in Australia and New Zealand. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 0(0), null. doi:10.1089/can.2021.0116
  13. Sinclair, Collett, Abbott, Pate, Sarris, & Armour. (2021). Effects of cannabis ingestion on endometriosis-associated pelvic pain and related symptoms. PLoS One, 16(10), e0258940. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0258940
  14. Mitchell, Armour, & Chalmers. (2021). Health seeking behaviours and treatments received by Australian women with vulvodynia: A cross-sectional survey. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, n/a(n/a). doi:10.1111/ajo.13423
  15. Leonardi, Rocha, Tun-Ismail, Robledo, Armour, & Condous. (2021). Assessing the knowledge of endometriosis diagnostic tools in a large, international lay population: an online survey. Bjog, 128(13), 2084-2090. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.16865
  16. Holmes, Curry, Sherry, Ferfolja, Parry, Smith, . . . Armour. (2021). Adolescent Menstrual Health Literacy in Low, Middle and High-Income Countries: A Narrative Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 18(5). doi:10.3390/ijerph18052260
  17. Armour, Middleton, Lim, Sinclair, Varjabedian, & Smith. (2021). Dietary Practices of Women with Endometriosis: A Cross-Sectional Survey. J Altern Complement Med, 27(9), 771-777. doi:10.1089/acm.2021.0068
  18. Armour, Hyman, Al-Dabbas, Parry, Ferfolja, Curry, . . . Holmes. (2021). Menstrual Health Literacy and Management Strategies in Young Women in Australia: A National Online Survey of Young Women Aged 13-25 Years. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol, 34(2), 135-143. doi:10.1016/j.jpag.2020.11.007
  19. Armour, Ciccia, Stoikos, & Wardle. (2021). Endometriosis and the workplace: Lessons from Australia's response to COVID-19. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, n/a(n/a). doi:10.1111/ajo.13458
  20. Armour, Cave, Schabrun, Steiner, Zhu, Song, . . . Smith. (2021). Manual Acupuncture Plus Usual Care Versus Usual Care Alone in the Treatment of Endometriosis-Related Chronic Pelvic Pain: A Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study. J Altern Complement Med, 27(10), 841-849. doi:10.1089/acm.2021.0004

Links & Resources

News & Events

Achievements

  • Dr Alex Hawkey: NHMRC Investigator’s Grant (EL1)
  • Dr Carolyn Ee: Vice Chancellor’s award for Excellence in Research as an Early Career Researcher
  • Samantha Ryan: Feminism & Psychology/ISCHP inaugural student presentation honorary mention for the presentation entitled: "Mapping the abject: Women’s embodied experiences of premenstrual body dissatisfaction through body-mapping"
  • Prof Janette Perz:  Elected President Elect, Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.
  • Dr Mike Armour and the Menstruation Matters team: Dean’s Award: Excellence in Research in Interdisciplinary Group.
  • Dr Mike Armour: NICM Award: Excellence in Research Partnerships