Objective: To study the effect of a short period of war on the menstrual cycles of exposed women.
Methods: Six months after a 16-day war, women in exposed villages aged 15-45 years were asked to complete a questionnaire relating to their menstrual history at the beginning, 3 months after, and 6 months after the war. A control group, not exposed to war, was also interviewed. The data collected were analyzed to estimate the effect of war on three groups of women: those who stayed in the war zone for 3-16 days (Group A), those who were displaced within 2 days to safer areas (Group B), and women not exposed to war or displacement (Group C-control).
Results: More than 35% of women in Group A and 10.5% in Group B had menstrual aberrations 3 months after the cessation of the war. These percentages were significantly different from each other and from that in Group C (2.6%). Six months after the war most women regained their regular menstrual cycles with the exception of 18.6% in Group A.
Conclusion: We found a short period of war, acting like an acute stressful condition, resulted in menstrual abnormalities in 10-35% of women and is probably related to the duration of exposure to war. This might last beyond the war time and for more than one or two cycles. In most women the irregular cycles reversed without any medical intervention.
Level of evidence: II.