Gastrointestinal symptoms and bowel patterns across the menstrual cycle in dysmenorrhea

M. M. Heitkemper, J. F. Shaver, E. S. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Gastrointestinal (GI) functional indicators and symptoms across the menstrual cycle were examined in three groups of women: dysmenorrheic (n = 15), non-pill-taking nondysmenorrheic (n, 10), and nondysmenorrheic taking birth control pills (BCPs) (n = 9). Group assignment was based on the reported presence or absence of moderate to severe menstrual cramps in a GI Health Diary which subjects kept for two menstrual cycles. Stool consistencies and frequencies and GI symptoms were also recorded in this diary. Menstrual cycle phase significantly, p =.03, influenced stool consistencies for the sample as a whole with the loosest stools at menses. Reports of stomach pain were higher, p <.001, at menses than at other cycle phases in all groups, and nausea, p <.001, and decreased food intake, p <.01, were more frequently reported by dysmenorrheic women at menses. More dysmenorrheic women had a history of menses-related GI symptoms. Both cycle phase and group differences were significant, p <.05, for menstrual distress, with negative affect, pain, behavior changes, and autonomic reactions reported more frequently at menses by dysmenorrheic women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-113
Number of pages6
JournalNursing research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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