Cyclic Perimenstrual Pain and Discomfort and Australian Women's Associated Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Longitudinal Study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Women's Health, 2018, 27 (1), pp. 40 - 50
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© Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2018. Objective: To examine the longitudinal change in Australian women's prevalence of cyclic perimenstrual pain and discomfort and the association between their symptoms and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Method: Data on endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular periods, heavy periods, and severe period pain were collected over a 7-year period from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, for women aged 28 to 33 years in 2006, and at 3-year follow-ups. Changes in symptoms and patterns of CAM practitioner and therapy/product use associated with these symptoms were analyzed using longitudinal regression modeling. Results: Over the 7-year period, prevalence rates of PMS and heavy periods increased, while prevalence rates of endometriosis, irregular periods, and severe period pain remained stable. The most common use of CAM longitudinally associated with the perimenstrual symptoms was use of vitamins/minerals, yoga/meditation, massage therapy, herbal medicine, and aromatherapy. Excluding consultation with a naturopath/herbalist, over the 7-year survey women's use of all other CAM practitioners increased as did their use of vitamin/minerals, yoga/meditation, and Chinese medicines, while aromatherapy use declined. Conclusion: Only the prevalence of PMS and heavy periods increased with aging in this sample of women. While overall use of CAM practitioner and self-prescribed products/therapies increased over time, CAM was chosen by women mainly to treat endometriosis and PMS. The extent to which this use reflects treatment efficacy is uncertain.
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