Dysmenorrhea in adolescents and young adults: prevalence, related factors and limitations in daily living.

Ana Cláudia Rodrigues, Sónia Gala, Ângela Neves, Conceição Pinto, Cláudia Meirelles, Cristina Frutuoso, Maria Elisete Vítor

Abstract


To determine the prevalence of dysmenorrhea, limitations in daily living and health care use due to menstrual pain.Observational transversal study of 274 adolescents and young adults (age ≤ 26) who had menstruated in the six months prior to the study, assisted at a Primary Health Care Center. Data were obtained by a 24-item anonymous questionnaire, which included questions about socio-demographic variables, menstrual cycle, presence, duration, severity, treatment and limitations of dysmenorrhea.One hundred and seventy-two (62.8%) subjects experienced menstrual pain. Of these, 65.7% reported having limitations in their daily activities due to dysmenorrhea. The prevalence of limitations in daily living was influenced by the presence of additional symptoms (r=0.331; p <0.001), pain intensity (r=0.281; p <0.001) and pain duration (r=0.172; p=0.027). The most commonly mentioned limitation was anxiety/depression (42.5%). Fourteen of the subjects reported missing school or work due to dysmenorrhea. A total of 48 respondents sought medical help and 135 reported using therapeutic measures to ease their pain. The most common treatments reported for pain treatment included NSAID's (38.5%) and oral pills (37.0%). The existence of additional symptoms (r=0.247; p=0.001) and the intensity of pain (r=0.160; p=0.039) led to the search for health care.Dysmenorrhea is highly prevalent among this sample of adolescents and young adults and is related to absenteeism. Thus, health care providers should regularly screen for dysmenorrhea and offer appropriate treatment.

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