Article  |   February 2012
Effects of the Menstrual Cycle and Oral Contraception on Singers' Pitch Control
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Filipa M. B. Lã
    University of Aveiro, INET-MD, Portugal
    University of Aveiro, INET-MD, Portugal
  • Johan Sundberg
    School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden
    School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden
  • David M. Howard
    University of York, United Kingdom
    University of York, United Kingdom
  • Pedro Sa-Couto
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • Adelaide Freitas
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
    Center for Research and Development in Mathematics and Applications (CIDMA), University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • Associate Editor: Lesley Mathieson
    Associate Editor: Lesley Mathieson×
  • Editor: Anne Smith
    Editor: Anne Smith×
  • Correspondence to Filipa M. B. Lã: filipa.la@ua.pt
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech
Article   |   February 2012
Effects of the Menstrual Cycle and Oral Contraception on Singers' Pitch Control
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research February 2012, Vol.55, 247-261. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0348)
History: Accepted 22 May 2011 , Received 12 Dec 2010
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research February 2012, Vol.55, 247-261. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0348)
History: Accepted 22 May 2011 , Received 12 Dec 2010

Purpose: Difficulties with intonation and vibrato control during the menstrual cycle have been reported by singers; however, this phenomenon has not yet been systematically investigated.

Method: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial assessing effects of the menstrual cycle and use of a combined oral contraceptive pill (OCP) on pitch control in singing is presented. Audio-electrolaryngograph recordings were made and blood samples were taken from 9 singers in each of the 3 phases of the menstrual cycle both under the placebo and the OCP conditions for a total of 6 months. Participants sang an exercise consisting of an ascending octave followed by a descending major triad, starting on pitches F4 and B4. Pitch control was assessed in terms of the octave’s deviations from pure intonation and of the vibrato rate and extent.

Results: Significant differences were found between the 3 phases of the cycle regarding octave size only for pitch F5 during OCP use. Significant vibrato rate differences between placebo and OCP conditions were found only for pitch F5.

Conclusion: OCP use may have an effect on pitch control in singers. Possible explanations point to a complex interaction between hormonal milieu and pitch control, enhancing the need for longitudinal studies.

Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access

Related Articles

In the Limelight: The Voice Virtuoso
The ASHA Leader February 2014, Vol.19, 22-23. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.19022014.22
Birth Control Pills and Nonprofessional Voice: Acoustic Analyses
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research October 2006, Vol.49, 1114-1126. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/080)
The Injured Voice of the Young Singer
SIG 3 Perspectives on Voice and Voice Disorders July 2002, Vol.12, 18-20. doi:10.1044/vvd12.2.18
Diagnosis and Treatment for the Professional Singer
SIG 3 Perspectives on Voice and Voice Disorders March 2013, Vol.23, 15-21. doi:10.1044/vvd23.1.15
Coordinator’s Column
SIG 3 Perspectives on Voice and Voice Disorders November 2013, Vol.23, 69-70. doi:10.1044/vvd23.3.69