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J Reprod Med. 1997 Oct;42(10):637-46.

Premenstrual symptoms in general practice patients. Prevalence and treatment.

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  • 1Hunter Centre for Health Advancement, Wallsend, New South Wales, Australia.



To examine the rates of premenstrual symptoms in Australian patients, the treatments they had tried for such symptoms, the perceived effectiveness of these treatments, the proportion of women who reported that they had sought help for premenstrual symptoms and whether women perceived the need for additional help in dealing with premenstrual symptoms. Characteristics associated with higher symptom levels and desire for help were examined.


A cross-sectional survey of 310 general practices patients aged 18-45 years and who had reported having had a menstrual period in the previous three months.


Between 11% and 32% of women reported severe or extreme changes during the premenstrual phase on each of the 10 symptoms in the short Premenstrual Assessment Form, with the highest rates for affective symptoms. Eighty-five percent of women reported that they had tried treatments for premenstrual symptoms, and many reported having tried multiple treatments. The most commonly tried treatments included pain killers rest, drinking more fluid and exercise, which had been tried by at least one-third of women. When women were asked to nominate up to three treatments they had tried and found most effective, the most commonly mentioned were dietary changes, evening primrose oil, vitamins (including B6) and exercise. Approximately 50% of the women had sought help, most commonly from a general practitioner and 45% reported that they would like more help dealing with premenstrual symptoms. Higher overall symptom scores were associated with a history of endometriosis, a lower education level, not taking oral contraceptives, taking evening primrose oil and taking vitamin B6.


There is a need to further refine, through evaluation of different approaches, programs and resources, ways to effectively help women who report premenstrual symptoms and would like help to deal with them.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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