Send to

Choose Destination
Arch Womens Ment Health. 2018 Oct;21(5):533-541. doi: 10.1007/s00737-018-0823-4. Epub 2018 Mar 10.

Somatic symptoms in women with dysmenorrhea and noncyclic pelvic pain.

Author information

Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1032 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL, 60660, USA.
Department of Ob/Gyn, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, IL, USA.
Department of Child and Family Health Studies, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, IL, USA.


Somatic symptoms are a robust, transdiagnostic risk factor for pain conditions. However, the extent to which somatic symptoms contribute to the manifestation of the women's pain syndromes, such as dysmenorrhea and noncyclic pelvic pain (NCPP), is unclear due to high rates of co-occurrence. Therefore, the present study investigated the primary hypothesis that somatic symptoms would be elevated in NCPP and distinctly influence the relationship between dysmenorrhea and co-occurring NCPP. A secondary analysis was performed on cross-sectional questionnaire data from 1012 nonpregnant reproductive-aged women. Eligible analyzed participants (n = 834) were categorized into four groups: healthy, dysmenorrhea, NCPP, and NCPP with co-occurring dysmenorrhea (NCPP+dysmenorrhea). A parallel mediation analysis was run to evaluate the primary hypothesis that somatic symptoms are the primary factor associated with increased NCPP accounting for dysmenorrhea. The NCPP+dysmenorrhea group had higher somatic, anxiety, and depression symptom T-scores (respectively 61, 61, 60) compared to the healthy controls (46, 51, 51; p's < .001) and the dysmenorrhea group (50, 53, 54; p's < .001). The pain and psychological symptoms were significantly correlated across the entire sample (r's = .29, - .64, p's < .01). Results from parallel mediation analysis showed that somatic symptoms were distinctly associated with NCPP+dysmenorrhea. Women with NCPP+dysmenorrhea have increased psychological and somatic symptoms compared to women with dysmenorrhea alone. Given that NCPP often co-occurs with dysmenorrhea, failure to account for comorbidity in previous studies has likely led to an overestimation of psychological symptoms in dysmenorrhea. Future studies should evaluate whether somatic sensitivity is a modifiable risk factor for NCPP.


Comorbidity; Dysmenorrhea; Noncyclic pelvic pain; Somatic symptoms

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center