The Association between Childhood Adversity and Risk of Dysmenorrhea, Pelvic Pain, and Dyspareunia in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review

  • Dehlia Moussaoui
    Address correspondence to: Dr. Dehlia Moussaoui, Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, 50 Flemington Road, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia.
    Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Sonia Regina Grover
    Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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      Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has been associated with poor health outcomes, including chronic pain. However, little is known about the potential impact on the development of pelvic pain in adolescents and young adults. This systematic review was conducted to explore the association between ACEs and dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain, and dyspareunia in adolescents and young adults.


      Medline, Embase, and PsycNET were searched, using keywords related to childhood adversity, dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain, and dyspareunia.


      Of the 566 articles identified, 19 studies were included. There was an association between the number and severity of ACEs and the risk of dysmenorrhea. Sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder appeared to be associated with dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain, and dyspareunia, but it was unclear whether this relationship was mediated by poorer mental health. No association was found for immigration and bullying, and findings were inconsistent regarding female genital mutilation, parental separation, and parental death.


      Future research should include longitudinal follow-up and use validated tools to assess childhood adversity. A greater understanding of the risk of ACEs among adolescents and young adults with dysmenorrhea, chronic pelvic pain, and dyspareunia could provide insight into the development of these conditions.

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