Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Bowel Patterns Across the Menstrual Cycle in Dysmenorrhea


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Abstract

Gastrointestinal (GI) functional indicators and symptoms across the menstrual cycle were examined in three groups of women: dysmenorrheic (n = 15), non-pill-taking nondysmenorrheic (n = 10), and nondysmenorrheic taking birth control pills (BCPs) (n = 9). Group assignment was based on the reported presence or absence of moderate to severe menstrual cramps in a GI Health Diary which subjects kept for two menstrual cycles. Stool consistencies and frequencies and GI symptoms were also recorded in this diary. Menstrual cycle phase significantly, p = .03, influenced stool consistencies for the sample as a whole with the loosest stools at menses. Reports of stomach pain were higher, p < .001, at menses than at other cycle phases in all groups, and nausea, p < .001, and decreased food intake, p < .01, were more frequently reported by dysmenorrheic women at menses. More dysmenorrheic women had a history of menses-related GI symptoms. Both cycle phase and group differences were significant, p < .05, for menstrual distress, with negative affect, pain, behavior changes, and autonomic reactions reported more frequently at menses by dysmenorrheic women.

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