Menstruation disturbances: prevalence, characteristics, and effects on the activities of daily living among adolescent girls from Brazil

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2013 Jun;26(3):148-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Mar 16.


Study objective: To determine the prevalence, characteristics and effects on the activities of daily living of menstruation disturbances among adolescent girls.

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional study.

Setting: A public school in the city of Petrolina, Brazil.

Participants: 218 female adolescents of ages between 12 and 17 years.

Main outcome measure: We used a structured questionnaire addressing the socio-demographic and menstrual characteristics of the adolescents. The intensity of menstrual pain and its effect on the activities of daily living were measured using an 11-point numeric rating scale.

Results: The mean age of adolescent girls was 13.7 ± 1.5 years. The menstrual cycles of 67% were regular, while 33% were irregular. Dysmenorrhea had a prevalence of 73%, and school absenteeism was observed among 31% of the adolescents. In addition, 66% of the participants considered that dysmenorrhea affected their activities of daily living. Associations were found between the intensity of pain and the variables: school absenteeism; affected activities of daily living; need to use medications; and between affected activities of daily living and school absenteeism (P < .05).

Conclusions: Among the menstrual disturbances observed dysmenorrhea stood out due to its high prevalence among adolescents with a negative effect on adolescents' activities of daily living. Early diagnosis and knowledge about menstrual disturbances are essential because in addition to reiterating the importance of implementing health education actions, they also help to choose appropriate treatments, thus minimizing the negative effects of these disturbances on the lives of adolescents.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adolescent
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dysmenorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires