Factors influencing the prevalence of primary dysmenorrhoea amongst Abia State university medical students, South Eastern Nigeria

  • B Chigbu
  • C Aluka
  • S Onwere
  • C Kamanu
  • O Okoro
  • C Aharauka
Keywords: Primary dysmenorrhoea, Prevalence, Medical students, Nigeria


Background: Dysmenorrhoea, although a common problem among young girls, is often under-diagnosed and under-treated due to relative lack of physician awareness of the prevalence rates and associated morbidity.
Objective: To estimate the prevalence of primary dysmenorrhoea amongst medical students, its impact on school and social activities and the students’ management strategies.
Design: A cross sectional descriptive study.
Setting: Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba in South Eastern Nigeria.
Subjects: One hundred and thirty two female undergraduate medical students.
Methods: From February 6, 2012 to February 12, 2012, 132 consenting female medical students completed an anonymous questionnaire administered by research assistants at the hostels. The following definition of primary dysmenorrhoea was used: any type of lower abdominal pain or cramps associated with menstrual periods including fatigue, nausea and headaches in the absence of any identifiable pelvic disease.
Results: The prevalence rate of dysmenorrhoea in the students was approximately 92 (70%). Dysmenorrhoea was significantly associated with heavy menstrual blood loss (p = 0.03) and positive family history of dysmenorrhoea (p= <0.001). There was no significant association between dysmenorrhoea and age at menarche, regularity of the cycle, length and duration of the cycle, and parity of the students. Severe dysmenorrhoea was reported by 57(62%) students. Forty one (45%) reported absenteeism from classes whilst 27(30%) reported decreased concentration in the classes.
Conclusion: The prevalence of primary dysmenorrhoea in the studied population of female medical students is high, and not consistently associated with demographic risk factors. Whereas it impacts negatively on their attendance to lectures and social activities, physician consultation rates were low and self treatment inadequate.

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