To ascertain the prevalence of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhea in Australia women and to examine whether there is population subgroups with distinct symptom trajectories.
A prospective cohort study, including 9671 young women random sampled from national Medicare database and followed up for 13 years, examined the prevalence, the trend and the symptom trajectories of the conditions.
Main outcome measures
Prevalence of PMS and dysmenorrhea over time, their symptom trajectories, and the probability of symptom reporting at follow-up.
The prevalence of PMS varied between 33 and 41% and that of dysmenorrhea between 21 and 26%. The probabilities of reporting PMS and dysmenorrhea were 0.75 (95% CI, 0.73, 0.76) and 0.70 (95% CI, 0.68, 0.72), respectively, among women who reported them in three previous consecutive surveys. Four unique trajectories were identified for both conditions. PMS was experienced by 80% of women some time during the study period, with normative (22.1%), late onset (21.9%), recovering (26.5%) and chronic (29.5%) groups revealed. Dysmenorrhea occurred in 60% of women with normative (38.3%), low (28.0%), recovering (17.2%) and chronic (16.5%) groups identified.
PMS and dysmenorrhea are common among young women. Both have relatively stable prevalence over time, but exhibit considerable variation at the individual level. Four subgroups of women who followed similar symptom trajectories were identified. PMS was experienced by 80% of women during the study period and it tended to be a long-lasting problem in many. Although 60% of women experienced dysmenorrhea, only a small group continuously reported it. Smoking and illicit drugs use, and smoking and obesity were more common among women with persistent PMS and dysmenorrhea respectively.