A U-shaped relationship between body mass index and dysmenorrhea: A longitudinal study

Hong Ju, Mark Jones, Gita D. Mishra

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46 Citations (Scopus)



Both obesity and dysmenorrhea are prevalent among women. Few population-based longitudinal studies investigate the association between body mass index (BMI) and dysmenorrhea yielding mixed results, especially for obesity. This study aims to investigate the long-term association between BMI and dysmenorrhea.


9,688 women from a prospective population-based cohort study were followed for 13 years. Data were collected through self-reported questionnaires. The longitudinal association between dysmenorrhea and BMI or BMI change was investigated by logistic regression analysis using generalized estimating equations to account for the repeated measures.


When the women were aged 22 to 27 years, approximately 11% were obese, 7% underweight, and 25% reported dysmenorrhea. Compared to women with a normal weight, significantly higher odds of reporting dysmenorrhea were detected for both women who were underweight (odds ratio (OR) 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15, 1.57) and obese (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.11, 1.35). Compared to women who remained at normal weight or overweight over time, significant risk was detected for women who: remained underweight or obese (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.20, 1.48), were underweight despite weight gain (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.12, 1.58), became underweight (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.02, 1.61). However the higher risk among obese women disappeared when they lost weight (OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.85, 1.32).


A U-shaped association was revealed between dysmenorrhea and BMI, revealing a higher risk of dysmenorrhea for both underweight and obese women. Maintaining a healthy weight over time may be important for women to have pain-free periods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0134187
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


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