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Disabil Rehabil. 2015;37(15):1334-9. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.962108. Epub 2014 Sep 22.

Vigorous exercises in the management of primary dysmenorrhea: a feasibility study.

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Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, University of Otago , Dunedin , New Zealand .



To examine the feasibility of using an exercise intervention for reducing menstrual pain associated with primary dysmenorrhea (PD) and to obtain preliminary results to estimate the sample size for a future randomized controlled trial (RCT).


A quasi-experimental design was applied. Ten women 18-45 years with PD were included. The participants underwent vigorous aerobic training at the School of Physiotherapy on a treadmill three times a week for up to 4 weeks followed by aerobic training at home for up to 4 weeks. The feasibility measures were adherence to the intervention programme and intervention prescription, retention and safety. The short form McGill pain questionnaire was used to measure pain at first (T1), second (T2) and third (T3) menstrual cycles following trial entry.


Overall adherence was 98%, with 100% adherence to clinic-based intervention and intervention prescription and 96% for home exercise programme. Retention rate was 100%. With respect to pain a large effect size was identified at T2 and T3. No adverse events reported.


Results demonstrated that the intervention is applicable and feasible. In addition, the preliminary results show evidence of positive changes after the intervention. The intervention programme's effectiveness will be studied further, in a future RCT. Implications for Rehabilitation There is a lack of available evidence from randomized controlled trials regarding the use of exercise in alleviating the symptoms associated with primary dysmenorrhea (PD). The preliminary results of this study shows that exercises may be effective in reducing the pain associated with PD indicated by a large effect size. The preliminary findings from this study could also contribute significantly to PD management and introduce new practice opportunities for physiotherapists working in women's health.


Aerobic training; exercise; menstrual pain; physical activity; physiotherapy; primary dysmenorrhea

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