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Prevalence and Impact of Dysmenorrhea Among University Students in Ireland.

Pain Medicine 2021 December 12
OBJECTIVE: Primary dysmenorrhea (PD), or painful menstruation, is a common gynecological condition that can cause intense pain and functional disability in women of reproductive age. As a nonmalignant condition, PD is relatively understudied and poorly managed. The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence and impact of PD among third-level students in Ireland.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional observational design was used.

METHODS: Students (n = 892; age range = 18-45 years) completed an online survey on menstrual pain characteristics, pain management strategies, pain interference, and pain catastrophizing.

RESULTS: The prevalence of PD was 91.5% (95% confidence interval = 89.67-93.33). Nonpharmacological management strategies were most popular (95.1%); of these, heat application (79%), rest (60.4%), hot shower/bath (40.9%), and exercise (25.7%) were most common. Perceived effectiveness of these methods varied between participants. Analgesic use was also common (79.5%); of these, paracetamol was most used (60.5%) despite limited perceived effectiveness. Pain catastrophizing was a significant predictor of variance in both pain intensity and pain interference scores such that those with higher pain catastrophizing scores reported more intense pain and greater interference with daily activities and academic demands.

CONCLUSIONS: This article presents the first investigation into PD among third-level students in Ireland. Poorly managed menstrual pain may impact functional ability across several domains. Future research should focus on improving menstrual pain management education and support and promoting menstrual health literacy for women affected by PD.

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