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Psychosomatic Medicine:
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Perimenstrual complaints in women complaining of PMS, menorrhagia, and dysmenorrhea: toward a dismantling of the premenstrual syndrome

Bancroft, J; Williamson, L; Warner, P; Rennie, D; Smith, S K

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Abstract

: Four groups of women were compared in terms of their perimenstrual symptoms, reported menstrual blood loss and period pain, and neuroticism scores: three patient groups were referred to a Gynaecology Outpatient Clinic because of menorrhagia (N = 101), PMS (N = 104), dysmenorrhea (N = 56), and a control group (N = 105). The three patient groups showed considerable overlap in a number of symptoms. This has led us to postulate three factors contributing to perimenstrual complaints: a) a 'timing factor' linked to the ovarian cycle; b) a 'menstruation factor,' associated with the buildup of the endometrium and its shedding; and c) a 'vulnerability factor,' one aspect of which, 'neuroticism,' was measured in this study. Depressive symptoms, which were the most important in leading women to seek help for their PMS, were related to all three factors. Depressive mood changes seemed to be linked to the 'timing factor' but were noticeably worse and more prolonged in women with high neuroticism, heavy bleeding, or severe pain. One premenstrual symptom, food craving, was of considerable interest. This was weakly related to neuroticism, not apparently affected by the 'menstruation factor' and differed in severity between those in the PMS group and the other three groups. It is potentially relevant that both carbohydrate craving and depression are linked to serotonergic changes in the brain, which may prove to be particularly marked in the late luteal phase.

Copyright (C) 1993 by American Psychosomatic Society

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