February 2019

Article Summary by IPPS Research Committee Member Dr. Laura Payne


What Women Say About Their Dysmenorrhea: A Qualitative Thematic Analysis
Chen X. Chen, Claire B. Draucker, and Janet S. Carpenter
BMC Women’s Health, 2018

Summary: Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) is very common among reproductive-age women, and although many studies have focused on dysmenorrhea, very little is known about women’s individual experiences. This study aimed to better understand women’s thoughts and experiences related to dysmenorrhea through qualitative analysis in order to provide more personalized treatment approaches. Participants for the study were 762 women at least 18 years old who were living in the United States and reported having menstrual pain the last 6 months. An open-ended question was used for analysis: Please write anything else you’d like to share with us about your dysmenorrhea experience.” Data were analyzed using a process to identify specific themes and patterns. Results indicated that 6 themes emerged, “(1) The dysmenorrhea symptom experience varied among women; (2) The dysmenorrhea symptom experience varied across time, (3) A variety of factors influenced the dysmenorrhea symptom experience, (4) Dysmenorrhea symptoms could have a negative impact on the women’s daily lives, (5) Dysmenorrhea was not seen as a legitimate health issue by the women, health care providers, or society, and (6) Treatment for women with dysmenorrhea varied in acceptability and effectiveness.” The authors suggest that these results indicate the need for improved assessment of dysmenorrhea symptoms, tracking of dysmenorrhea symptoms over time, and personalized approaches to interventions. Study findings may be limited by a recall bias in participants reporting past experiences of menstrual pain, as well as a sample selection bias by using the Internet for the survey.

Conclusion: Women have varied experiences with dysmenorrhea and personalized approaches are needed to address this significant problem.

Corresponding Social Media Announcement: Dysmenorrhea symptoms and course vary significantly among women and more work is needed to develop effective, personalized approaches to this problem.