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The Prevalence and Educational Impact of Pelvic and Menstrual Pain in Australia: A National Online Survey of 4202 Young Women Aged 13-25 Years

      Abstract

      Study Objective

      To explore the prevalence and impact of dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain and menstrual symptoms on young women at school or in tertiary education.

      Design and Setting

      Cross-sectional online survey in Australia.

      Participants

      A total of 4202 adolescent and young women (13-25 years of age; median age 17 years), having reached menarche, living in Australia and currently attending school (n = 2421) or tertiary education (n = 1781).

      Interventions

      Online survey hosted by Qualtrics between November 2017 to January 2018. Data were collected on sociodemographic data, menstrual cycle characteristics, dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain, and educational and social impact.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Information on menstrual and pelvic pain impact, academic absenteeism and presenteeism, impact on non-academic activities and interactions with teaching staff.

      Results and Conclusions

      Dysmenorrhea was reported by 92% of respondents. Dysmenorrhea was moderate (median 6.0 on a 0-10 numeric rating scale) and pain severity stayed relatively constant with age [rs(3804) = 0.012, P = .477]. Noncyclical pelvic pain at least once a month was reported by 55%. Both absenteeism and presenteeism related to menstruation were common. Just under half of women reported missing at least one class/lecture in the previous three menstrual cycles. The majority of young women at school (77%) and in tertiary education (70%) reported problems with classroom concentration during menstruation. Higher menstrual pain scores were strongly correlated with increased absenteeism and reduced classroom performance at both school and in tertiary education. Despite the negative impact on academic performance the majority of young women at school (60%) or tertiary education (83%) would not speak to teaching staff about menstruation.

      Key Words

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