Behavioral treatment parameters with primary dysmenorrhea

J Behav Med. 1978 Sep;1(3):297-310. doi: 10.1007/BF00846681.


Fourteen women with primary dysmenorrhea were administered four sessions of systematic desensitization (SD) by either a male or a female therapist. The following measures were taken during the flow periods before and after treatment and at a 6-month follow-up: menstrual symptom checklist, medication usage, invalid hours, and menstrual attitudes. At pretreatment, menstrually distressed women had significantly higher scores on all measures compared to a normative group and an explicitly nondistressed group. At posttreatment, treated women's scores on the dependent variables were significantly reduced. All indices were reduced to a "nondistressed level" at posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. Type of dysmenorrhea (congestive vs. spasmodic), trait anxiety level, and therepist sex did not predict differential responsiveness to SD. SD did not affect frontailis EMG, peripheral blood flow, or pain threshold. A Retrospective Symptom Scale of menstrual distress was found to be highly reliable, valid, and sensitive.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Desensitization, Psychologic / methods
  • Dysmenorrhea / psychology
  • Dysmenorrhea / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Relaxation Therapy