Evaluation of menstrual pain management approaches by Northeastern Anatolian adolescents

Pain Manag Nurs. 2009 Mar;10(1):40-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2008.09.001.


We evaluated approaches taken by Northeastern Turkish adolescents to cope with menstrual pain. The questionnaire was prepared according to the facial pain rating scale and applied to 1,408 female high school students (16.05 +/- 1.05 years of age). We investigated the characteristics of dysmenorrhea in adolescents, dysmenorrhea management strategies used by adolescents, and use of medication. We evaluated the relationships among pain duration, severity, and duration of dysmenorrhea experience using the chi-squared test. Dysmenorrhea was considered to be painful menstruation during the past three cycles and was experienced by 81.7% of subjects. It mostly occurred during the past 1-3 years (65.6%). Pain was mostly initiated a day before (38.8%) or at the beginning of (45.8%) menstrual flow and lasted for 1-3 days. It was felt in multiple locations but most commonly in the lower abdomen and lumbar region. Major symptoms associated with dysmenorrhea were sweating, low appetite, headache, distraction, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, as well as varying degrees of pain severity. Approaches taken to deal with dysmenorrhea were: consulting a health professional (8.9%), medication (46.1%), nonmedicinal activities, and other empirical strategies (24.4%). Medication was recommended mostly by mothers (39.0%) and was taken when pain became unbearable (65.5%). More than one-third of the subjects did not know which drug they took. Major nonpharmacologic measures were: heating pad use (36.5%), sleeping (31.0%), walking (11.3%), and massaging (11.0%). Seeing a physician (p < .001), taking medication (p < .001), and applying empirical strategies to prevent dysmenorrhea (p < .01) were associated with prolonged dysmenorrhea. Medication was associated with shortening pain duration during one menstrual cycle. Except for empirical strategies to prevent dysmenorrhea, all other methods used to prevent dysmenorrhea were related to pain duration and severity. Adolescents should be encouraged to consult a physician and should be prescribed medication in addition to other measures to alleviate menstrual pain and shorten its duration. Moreover, school curriculum should be redesigned to address proper management strategies for adolescent problems. School nurses can also provide consultation services and arrange informative seminars to increase public awareness of this issue.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Drug Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dysmenorrhea / epidemiology
  • Dysmenorrhea / psychology
  • Dysmenorrhea / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Turkey / epidemiology