Background: Primary dysmenorrhea (PD) is a common problem in young women. It affects several aspects of their daily activities, and the academic performance is no exception. The present study was done to assess the effect of PD on students' academic performance at the largest university dedicated to women's education in the world
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted, including female students from different colleges at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh. A structured, self-administered questionnaire was used to collect participants' data regarding sociodemographic and menstrual characteristics, pain characteristics, and the effects of pain on academic performance parameters. Menstrual pain was assessed using A Visual Analogue Scale.
Results: In a total of 500 students [median (interquartile range) age: 21 (19-22)] years, (52.4% studied at health colleges), the prevalence of PD was 92% (57.6% had moderate-to-severe pain). PD was a significant predictor of reduced physical activity [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 8.48, p = 0.0001], low concentration, submitting incomplete homework (AOR = 5.67, p = 0.0001), reduced concentration (AOR = 3.68, p = 0.001), and falling asleep during lectures (AOR = 2.73, p = 0.02). Considering mild PD as a reference, all indicators of poor academic performance were predicted by moderate/severe pain, including absenteeism, reduced concentration, reduced physical activity, submitting incomplete homework, impaired relationships with friends, getting low exam grades, and falling asleep during lectures.
Conclusion: The detrimental effects of PD on academic performance among university students highlight the need to increase the students' awareness regarding menstrual pain and improve their perceptions about treatment approaches to mitigate the educational process's negative impact.
Key words: Dysmenorrhea, prevalence, outcome and visual analogue scale, absenteeism, school performance