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BMC Womens Health. 2018 Mar 2;18(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s12905-018-0538-8.

What women say about their dysmenorrhea: a qualitative thematic analysis.

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Indiana University School of Nursing, 600 Barnhill Drive, NU E415, Indianapolis, IN, 46202, USA.
Indiana University School of Nursing, 600 Barnhill Drive, NU E415, Indianapolis, IN, 46202, USA.



Dysmenorrhea is highly prevalent and is the leading cause of absence from school and work among women of reproductive age. Evidence suggests that dysmenorrhea may also be a risk factor for other chronic pain conditions. Limited research has examined women's experience with dysmenorrhea using qualitative data. Research is warranted to address issues and needs that are important from women's own perspectives. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe women's salient thoughts about their experiences of dysmenorrhea.


We analyzed data collected from an open-ended question within a cross-sectional survey study conducted in the United States. Using qualitative thematic analysis, free text responses to a question asking women to share their experience with dysmenorrhea were analyzed.


The sample consisted of 225 women who provided valid responses to the open-ended question. Six themes were identified: (1) The dysmenorrhea symptom experience varied among women; (2) The dysmenorrhea symptom experience varied across time, (3) A variety of factors influenced the dysmenorrhea symptom experience, (4) Dysmenorrhea symptoms could have a negative impact on the women's daily lives, (5) Dysmenorrhea was not seen as a legitimate health issue by the women, health care providers, or society, and (6) Treatment for women with dysmenorrhea varied in acceptability and effectiveness.


The findings of this study have important implications for dysmenorrhea symptom assessment and the development of personalized interventions to support dysmenorrhea management.


Dysmenorrhea; Menstruation; Pain; Patient preference; Qualitative research; Women’s health

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