Perimenstrual symptom prevalence rates: an Italian-American comparison

Am J Epidemiol. 1993 Dec 15;138(12):1070-81. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116825.


The purposes of this study were to determine the prevalence of perimenstrual symptoms among a randomly selected group of Italian women by using a standardized menstrual symptom instrument and to compare them with those from a census-based sample of free-living American women in the study by Woods et al. (Am J Public Health 1982;72:1257-64). Italian menstrual symptom prevalence rates were obtained as part of a 1984 national health screening project using the Moos Menstrual Distress Questionnaire translated into Italian. A total of 306 of the 426 randomly invited women between ages 20 and 49 years participated (71.8% participation rate). After determination of ineligible participants (those who were postmenopausal, posthysterectomy, and pregnant), a total of 239 subjects were interviewed. Italian women reported the highest prevalence of symptoms during the menstrual phase and the lowest prevalence during the remainder of the cycle. The cross-cultural comparison indicates that, overall, Italian women reported higher prevalence of symptoms across the three phases of the cycle than did the American women, even though this difference was the smallest during the premenstrual phase. Prevalence rates of a number of classic premenstrual symptoms (e.g., breast tenderness) and affective symptoms (e.g., tension and avoid social activities) were found to be similar for the Italian and American samples. This study, while it identifies a sociocultural component to symptom reporting, indicates the presence of premenstrual distress symptoms in diverse cultural settings, even in women who are generally unaware of premenstrual syndrome. These findings lend support to the validity of the premenstrual phase distress experience and suggest the existence of the premenstrual syndrome across diverse cultures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sampling Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology