Actigraphy quantifies reduced voluntary physical activity in women with primary dysmenorrhea

J Pain. 2009 Jan;10(1):38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2008.07.002. Epub 2008 Aug 23.


We assessed whether an activity data logger was able to detect and measure the reduced physical activity reported by women with moderate to severe primary dysmenorrhea. Twelve young women with a history of primary dysmenorrhea and 12 young women without a history of dysmenorrhea wore an activity data logger on their hip for 3 days when menstruating and for 3 matched days of the week when not menstruating. A visual analog scale was use to assess intensity of pain. When menstruating, the women with a history of primary dysmenorrhea, compared with when they were not menstruating, were significantly less active by about 40% on their day of worst pain (P < .001), day of intermediate pain (P < .001), and day of least pain (P < .001). There was no significant difference in the voluntary physical activity of the group on the 3 menstrual days. The women without a history of dysmenorrhea experienced mild menstrual pain but no significant decrease in physical activity (P = .82). We show that data loggers are able to detect and quantify the decrease in physical activity reported by the women with a history of moderate to severe dysmenorrhea and that menstrual pain but not menstruation itself was associated with decreased voluntary physical activity.

Perspective: We have shown that a miniature activity data logger, when worn on the hip of women with a history of dysmenorrhea, detected a 40% decrease in physical activity when the women were experiencing moderate to severe primary dysmenorrhea. Actigraphy is a useful tool for measuring pain-related debilitation and its management.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dysmenorrhea / pathology
  • Dysmenorrhea / physiopathology*
  • Dysmenorrhea / psychology
  • Female
  • Hip / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Menstruation / physiology*
  • Menstruation / psychology
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult