A cross-sectional study published in the November, 2010, issue of Fertility and Sterility reports that very painful menstrual periods during the teen years (that is, period pain so severe that girls miss school) may be predictive of an increased risk of developing deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE), the most extensive form of endometriosis.
In a study of 229 women undergoing surgery for endometriosis, French researchers found that those with the most extensive form — known as deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE) — were more likely to have had particularly painful periods as teenagers.
As a group, they were four times as likely as women with non-DIE endometriosis to have used birth control pills to treat severe menstrual pain before the age of 18. And they were 70 percent more likely to say they’d missed school days because of menstrual symptoms.
Although these findings may help women receive a diagnosis of endometriosis sooner,* it is unclear whether progression to DIE (what an unfortunate acronym!) can be prevented. And there is no real cure for endometriosis.
*As we reported previously in writing about Kate Seear’s research about the diagnostic delay in treating endometriosis, the delay is non-trivial: research estimates an average delay of 8 years in the UK and 11 years in the US.
Illustration via sexualityandu.ca
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Adolescent Gynecology reports on a study of how dysmenorrhea affects girls’ relationships with families and friends and school performance for girls in Turkey. Previously, we reported on research documenting that menstrual pain is the norm for adolescents; this study represents a next step by looking at the effects of that pain. 1951 girls from 26 high schools completed surveys assessing the level and the nature of menstrual pain they experienced and answered questions about how their pain affected their school work and relationships.
Unsurprisingly, more than half of the girls surveyed reported that dysmenorrhea does affect their ability to perform well at school, with 50% of the girls reporting “lack of focus on the content of the courses” and 26.9% reporting “not being able to answer the questions in exams despite having the knowledge”. A staggering 77.3% report “having problems with their families” when they are experiencing menstrual pain.
Women have long been advised that exercise is among the best pain relievers for painful periods. But a new Cochrane Review (also published in July, 2010, issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology) indicates that research confirming that advice is inconclusive.
Yet, the data on exercise and dysmenorrhea are quite limited, and only one clinical trial met review standards. The main outcome measure was the change in The MOOS Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ) after three cycles of treatment. The MDQ is commonly used in menstrual cycle research (and also commonly criticized). Exercise was found to improve MDQ scores within three cycles. This Cochrane review offers some preliminary, although not robust, evidence for the effectiveness of exercise in the treatment of dysmenorrhea.
So if exercise helps your period pain, keep it up!
London newspaper The Telegraph reports on the development of a new medical treatment for dysmenorrhea, or painful periods. The article contains very little information about the new pill — most of the article describes the variety of misery some women experience with menstruation. The only information about the new medication is that the drug blocks vasopressin, a hormone involved in regulating uterine contractions and thus a cause of menstrual cramping.
But I was struck by this sentence in the second paragraph:
But now [women with painful periods] might no longer have to soldier on stoically after researchers have developed a pill which could put an end to the root cause of their discomfort.
See that? Women with cramps aren’t whiners or crybabies or just making excuses. They’re hard-working troupers who soldier on stoically despite being miserable.