Adverse symptoms related to menstruation are common during menstrual cycles, which occur approximately once a month in healthy women. Primary dysmenorrhea (PD) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are especially common and troublesome, causing cramps, body pain, and many other disturbing physical and emotional symptoms. Now, a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted in Japan found commonalities in risk factors for the prevalence and severity of PD and PMS, demonstrating that some symptoms can be successfully self-managed.
Previous studies investigating the symptoms of PD and PMS found a variety of risk factors without clear conclusions. Many studies have limited their scope to PE during menstruation and PMS before menstruation. Professor Nakata’s research group, however, found that the symptoms were frequent and similar both before and during menstruation. Their review therefore included symptoms at both stages. The researchers, led by Professor Yoshio Nakata, examined studies in English and Japanese on symptoms related to menstruation, focusing on PD and PMS.
Professor Nakata’s team first conducted a search of biomedical literature in English and Japanese. They looked for observational studies of healthy women, and that focused on PD and PMS. A further review refined the list from 1479 to 77 studies that met the exact criteria. From these, they extracted data on physical characteristics, menstrual characteristics, and lifestyle factors. The results showed that the physical characteristics, such as age and BMI; menstrual characteristics, such as longer periods and irregular cycles; and lifestyle factors, including sleep duration and smoking, affected the prevalence and severity of menstrual-related symptoms. Some of the identified risk factors were beyond the individual’s control, such as age and family history. However, other features offer hope for alleviating symptoms.
Among our findings, BMI, stress, sleep duration, and bedtime were associated with PD prevalence, whereas smoking was associated with PMS prevalence. The good news is that women can do a lot to control these risk factors on their own.”
Professor Yoshio Nakata
To the investigators’ knowledge, this is the first study to comprehensively examine how much all of these factors affect the prevalence and severity of PD and PMS. Intervention and management that address the most significant factors can improve symptoms and therefore improve quality of life for many women.
Mitsuhashi, R., et al. (2022). Factors associated with the prevalence and severity of menstrual-related symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010569.