Mclean Hospital

Video: Why Talking About Menstrual Pain Is Essential to Psychiatric Care

Available with English captions.

Laura Payne, PhD, McLean Hospital – McLean Forum Lecture

In This Presentation

An abundance of research shows that phases of the menstrual cycle are associated with increased psychiatric symptoms. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, anger, substance and alcohol craving and use, and suicidal ideation and attempts typically worsen during the pre-menstrual and menstrual phases.

Menstrual pain, in particular, may be one factor that contributes to exacerbation of these symptoms. Menstrual pain is a highly commonplace and recurrent yet under-recognized condition for the majority of reproductive-age women—although even first-line treatment approaches leave many women without significant relief. In addition, menstrual pain may also be a risk factor for future pain problems in a subset of women.

Talking about menstrual pain as a part of mental health evaluations can help identify a significant source of distress and reduced quality of life in female patients. Additionally, interventions such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) or mindfulness practice may reduce catastrophic thinking about pain and provide women with a set of tools for coping with recurrent and disabling menstrual pain.

December 17, 2020

Back to top