Period pain significantly impacts the academic performance of young women worldwide, a study has found.
Researchers from Western Sydney University in Australia have found that, regardless of geographical location or economic status, more than two thirds (71 per cent) of young women globally suffer from painful periods.
One in five young women (20 per cent) reported being absent from class due to period pain, while 41 per cent reported that their concentration or performance in class was negatively affected.
The researchers examined the results of thirty-eight studies, including 21,573 young women. Twenty-three of the studies were from the low, lower middle, or upper-middle-income countries, and 15 were from high-income countries.
Despite the commonly held belief women grow out’ of period pain, rates of dysmenorrhea (period pain) were found to be similar between students at school and university.
The research, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, highlights the need for better education around period pain and has implications for the self-care and treatment of the disorder.
“Young women, whether they were at school or university, experienced a significant negative impact on their education as a result of their menstrual symptoms,” Dr Mike Armour from Western Sydney University.
“This lowered classroom efficiency during the period is something women often feel they must put up with, meaning that both adolescent girls and young women may be significantly disadvantaged in their studies by the impact of period pain,” Armour said.
“This often occurs at a crucial time in their academic lives during their final schooling years when academic results can have long term consequences,” he added.
Women also reported they had to restrict social, sporting, and other school activities due to menstrual symptoms, negatively affecting health outcomes.
According to Armour, the belief that period pain is a normal part of becoming a woman and the inability of many women to identify the symptoms of period pain are barriers to women seeking help.
“Improving women’s education about menstruation may help women make better choices about self-care and when to seek medical treatment,” he said.