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Abstract

Recent research findings contradict the notion that premenstrual and menstrual symptoms constitute two mutually exclusive categories of perimenstrual distress. The purposes of this study were to describe the prevalence of distress associated with menstruation in a community population and to determine whether perimenstrual distress could be regarded as a single construct. Nonpregnant women (N = 193) between 18 and 35 were selected from five neighborhoods in a southeastern city in a way that allowed for variability in race and income. The women were interviewed in their homes and 179 were asked to complete the Moos Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ). At least 30% of the women reported weight gain, skin disorders, backache, painful or tender breasts, irritability, depression, headache, cramps, fatigue, swelling, mood swings or tension in the perimenstruum. Cycle phase differences were not found for 31 MDQ symptoms, but were found for: weight gain, crying, lowered school or work performance, taking naps, headache, skin disorders, cramps, anxiety, backache, fatigue, painful or tender breasts, swelling, irritability, mood swings, depression, and tension. Although there were significant differences between the premenstrual and menstrual phases for certain symptoms, the magnitudes of the mean differences were small (< .3) except for cramps, weight gain, and fatigue. Furthermore, premenstrual and menstrual reports of the same symptoms were highly correlated. Thus, it appears reasonable to study perimenstrual distress as a single construct.