This study aimed to investigate the characteristics of symptoms related to the menstrual cycle and their impact on social activities in young teenage girls. Between March and June 2009, all girls born in 1996 who were residents of eight regions in Flanders (Belgium) received a semi-structured questionnaire, including questions about the age of menarche, characteristics of the menstrual cycle, and its impact on social activities.
Participants were 792 13-year-old girls (15.7 % of the target population). Out of 363 (47.2 % of participants) postmenarcheal girls, 41.6 % (95 % confidence interval (CI) 36.4-47.0 %) reported painful menstruations.
The proportion of girls with painful menstrual periods decreased approximately 16 % with each year the age at menarche increased (relative risk (RR) = 0.84; 0.73-0.98; p < 0.05) and was positively correlated with the amount of blood loss (RR = 0.33; 0.16-0.67; p < 0.05 when little and 1.85; 1.49-2.31; p < 0.001 when abundant, compared to average).
One in four (25.4 %) postmenarcheal girls indicated a negative impact of menstruation on social activities, but this proportion was significantly higher in girls who experienced menstruation as painful (41.3 %) compared to those who did not (14.2 %).
- Menstrual cycle-related symptoms may negatively interfere with school absence and social activities.
- Early menarche and severe dysmenorrhea are correlated with endometriosis.
- In this large population-based study on the characteristics of the menstrual cycle in young teenage girls at or shortly after menarche, painful menstruation was highly prevalent (41.7 %), but related school absenteeism was low (3.2 %). The likelihood of pain increased significantly with lower menarcheal age.
- The findings support the need for a systematic evaluation of the characteristics of the menstrual cycle shortly after menarche.
By: Hoppenbrouwers K1, Roelants M2, Meuleman C3, Rijkers A4, Van Leeuwen K5, Desoete A6, D'Hooghe T7.
- 1Centre of Environment and Health, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University Leuven, Kapucijnenvoer 35, block d, 7001, 3000, Leuven, Belgium. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2Centre of Environment and Health, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University Leuven, Kapucijnenvoer 35, block d, 7001, 3000, Leuven, Belgium. email@example.com.
- 3University Fertility Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Leuven, 3000, Leuven, Belgium. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 4University Fertility Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Leuven, 3000, Leuven, Belgium. email@example.com.
- 5Parenting and Special Education Research Group, University Leuven, 3000, Leuven, Belgium. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 6Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, University Ghent, 9000, Ghent, Belgium. email@example.com.
- 7University Fertility Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Leuven, 3000, Leuven, Belgium. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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