Menstrual Pain Exacerbated by Smoking

Pharmacy Times, July 2015 Digestive Health, Volume 81, Issue 7

Recent study results have indicated that female smokers may be at higher risk for developing menstrual pain.

Women who smoke cigarettes have a new reason to consider quitting, as recent study results have indicated that female smokers may be at higher risk for developing menstrual pain.

The study, published in Tobacco Control, followed 9067 women for an average of 13 years. At the start of research, all participants were aged 18 to 23 years, about 25% were current smokers, and approximately 25% reported experiencing painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Over the course of the study, about 14% of the women had chronic dysmenorrhea, defined by the researchers as experiencing painful periods 70% to 80% of the time.

The research team found that current smokers had a 41% higher risk of developing chronic dysmenorrhea than women who had never smoked, with the pain generally worsening as the number of cigarettes they smoked each day increased. Additionally, former smokers had a 33% higher risk of experiencing chronically painful periods compared with those who had never smoked.

The researchers also discovered that the participants’ risk of experiencing chronically painful periods increased if they began to smoke earlier in life, with women who started to smoke at 14 or 15 years of age having a 50% higher risk and those who started to smoke before 13 years of age having a 59% higher risk.

The study authors noted that a preliminary analysis of the data suggested that quitting smoking may alleviate menstrual pain in female smokers, but they added that further research is needed to support this theory.