Objective: Our purpose was to examine, in women aged 18 to 49, the relationship of violent experiences (child abuse, violent crime, spouse abuse) to gynecologic problems.
Study design: Data from 1599 participants in a randomized, sociodemographically representative telephone survey of U.S. women were used. Gynecologic problems wer measured by self-report of receiving a physician's diagnosis of severe menstrual problems, a sexually transmitted disease, or a urinary tract infection. Statistical analyses used were the chi2 test and multiple logistic regression.
Results: A total of 31.5% of participants reported a diagnosis of gynecologic problems in the past 5 years. Those with problems were more likely to report childhood abuse, violent crime victimization, and spouse abuse. In logistic regression models controlling for sociodemographic factors and access to medical care, violence events remained significantly associated with gynecologic problems.
Conclusions: A history of gynecologic problems may indicate that a patient has been harmed by violence. However, all women are at risk of being harmed by violence, and a violence history should be obtained as part of the intake protocol for all patients. Physicians need to be prepared to provide information about local community services, including counseling, domestic violence centers, shelters, and advocacy groups.