1. In previous studies, the elastic properties of the common carotid artery were found to differ between men and women. In these studies, however, the phase of the menstrual cycle was not taken into consideration. It was the aim of the present study to investigate the effect of changing ovarian hormone levels during the normal menstrual cycle on the arterial wall properties of female large arteries.

2. We investigated the elastic right common carotid artery and the muscular right common femoral artery of normotensive young (18–35 years) female subjects (n = 12). The arterial distensibility and cross-sectional compliance coefficients were determined by the use of a specially designed ultrasonic wall-tracking device and measurements of automatic brachial artery cuff blood pressure. The phase of the menstrual cycle was assessed by ultrasonographic evaluation and measurement of 17β-oestradiol and progesterone blood plasma levels.

3. The distensibility coefficient and the cross-sectional compliance coefficient of both the common carotid and the common femoral artery did not change significantly during the normal menstrual cycle despite evidently changing ovarian hormone levels.

4. We conclude that the menstrual cycle does not influence the arterial wall properties of either the elastic common carotid artery or the muscular common femoral artery.

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