Why Do Some Spanish Nursing Students with Menstrual Pain Fail to Consult Healthcare Professionals?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 5;17(21):8173. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17218173.


Dysmenorrhea is a problem that affects a large percentage of young women worldwide. Alarmingly, the majority of these women choose to self-medicate rather than consult a healthcare professional, despite the risks involved. The present study aimed to explore the reasons why undergraduate nursing students do not consult health care professionals regarding their menstrual pain. A qualitative study was conducted using an open question: "Why didn't you consult a healthcare professional?" within the context of a research project on primary dysmenorrhea among nursing students at the University of Huelva, Spain. The responses of 202 women were analyzed using content analysis. Three categories were identified: assessment of the pain experienced, expectations, and experiences of professional care and selfcare. We found a striking normalization of the problem; notably, students downplayed the importance of the problem, considering that it was not worth consulting a physician. Furthermore, there was a notable degree of self-medication using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). These results may be useful for orienting policies to raise social awareness of this problem and for designing health education strategies aimed at women with primary dysmenorrhea.

Keywords: dysmenorrhea; menstrual pain; pain management; qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Dysmenorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Spain
  • Students, Nursing*