Background: The purpose of this study was to explore risk factors, including age at menarche, body mass index (BMI), psychiatric stress and physical exercise on the menstrual cycle of healthy Taiwanese college nursing students.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey involving 1300 female college students in the nursing curriculum between December 2002 and March 2003. We provided a structured questionnaire for each student. Information on the women's demographics, lifestyles and reproductive history related to menstrual cycle characteristics was requested. A total of 1095 healthy students were included in the analysis. A logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratios for each of the menstrual cycle characteristics.
Results: We found that age at menarche, BMI and psychiatric stress were associated with menstrual cycle characteristics in healthy college nursing students. In addition to menarche at the age of 14 years or later, obesity and psychological stress, menarche before 12 years of age was an important risk factor for menstrual dysfunction. Moreover, obese students had the highest risk of having a longer cycle and cycle irregularity.
Conclusions: Early menarche might be related to menstrual dysfunction in addition to late menarche, obesity and psychological stress. Moreover, obese students are at the highest risks for longer cycles and cycle irregularity.