Pain symptoms of many disorders are reported to vary with menstrual stage. This study investigated how pain thresholds to electrical stimulation of the skin, subcutis and muscle tissue varied with menstrual stage in normal women and compared these variations with those in women with dysmenorrhea and in healthy men at matched intervals. Thresholds of the three tissues were measured four times during the course of one menstrual cycle at four sites. Two of the sites were on the abdomen within the uterine viscerotome (abdomen-rectus abdominis, left and right) and two were outside it on the limbs (leg-quadriceps, arm-deltoid). Calculated from the beginning of menstruation (day 0), the menstrual phases studied were menstrual (days 2–6), periovulatory (days 12–16), luteal (days 17–22) and premenstrual (days 25–28). Spontaneous pain associated with menstruation was measured from diary estimates on a VAS scale. Menstrual phase, dysmenorrhea and tissue: Whereas the highest thresholds always occurred in the luteal phase regardless of segmental site or stimulus depth, the lowest thresholds occurred in the periovulatory stage for skin, whereas those for muscle/subcutis occurred perimenstrually. Dysmenorrhea accentuated the impact of menstrual phase. For non-dysmenorrheic women menstrual trends were significant only in abdominal muscle and subcutis, but for dysmenorrheic women the trends were also significant in abdominal skin and in limb muscle and subcutis. Dysmenorrhea also lowered thresholds mainly in muscle and sometimes in subcutis, but never in skin, with the greatest hyperalgesic effects in left abdominis muscle. Segmental site: Abdominal sites were more vulnerable to menstrual influences than limb sites. Muscle thresholds, but not skin or subcutis thresholds, were significantly lower in abdomen than in limbs, particularly in dysmenorrheic women. The amount of abdominal muscle hyperalgesia correlated significantly with the amount of spontaneous menstrual pain. Sex differences: Only minor sex differences were observed for pain thresholds of the arm and leg, but there was a unanimous refusal by men, but not by women, to be tested at abdominal sites. These results indicate that menstrual phase, dysmenorrhea status, segmental site, tissue depth and sex all have unique interacting effects on pain thresholds, thus adding more items to the lengthy and still-growing list of biological factors that enter into an individual's judgment of whether or not a stimulus is painful.