Dysmenorrhoea among Hong Kong university students: prevalence, impact, and management.Hong Kong Med J. 2013 Jun; 19(3):222-8.HK
OBJECTIVE. To evaluate the prevalence of dysmenorrhoea, its impact, and management approaches in Hong Kong university students, and to compare between medical and non-medical students for any potential differences in coping strategies. DESIGN. Cross-sectional questionnaire survey. SETTING. The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. PARTICIPANTS. A total of 240 undergraduate (128 medical and 112 non-medical) students. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Data on the presence and severity of dysmenorrhoea, its impact on daily life, management approaches, specific strategies, and their self-perceived effectiveness were obtained and analysed. RESULTS. In these subjects, the prevalence of dysmenorrhoea was 80% (95% confidence interval, 75-85%) with a mean (standard deviation) pain score of 5.0 (1.7). The most common impacts on daily life included reduced ability to concentrate and/or disturbance with study (75%) and changes in normal physical activity (60%). Only 6% sought medical advice, while 70% practised self-management. Pain scores and pain affecting normal physical activities were important predictive factors for self-management and for management based on pharmacological or non-pharmacological means. The commonest specific strategies used were a warm beverage (62%), paracetamol (57%), and sleeping (45%), while the most effective strategies were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (100%), traditional Chinese medicine (93%), and dietary/nutritional supplements (92%). Regarding the comparison of medical and non-medical students, the former used fewer pharmacological strategies among the various management approaches investigated. CONCLUSION. With data showing dysmenorrhoea as a very common condition having a significant impact in the Hong Kong community, primary care doctors should reassure young women with dysmenorrhoea that it is a common experience in the same age-group. Health education on the existence of effective treatment from medical practitioners could help women whose dysmenorrhoea was not controlled by self-management.