Physical activity may be an effective treatment for primary dysmenorrhoea, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 15 randomised control trials (n=1681) identified through a literature search on electronic databases. The physical activity interventions delivered for at least two menstrual cycles were compared with any comparator that did not involve physical activity. Physical activity interventions included aerobic exercise, stretching exercises, yoga or Kegel’s exercises. GRADE assessment was used to assess the quality of evidence for pain intensity and duration. Pain intensity was assessed using the visual analogue scale (VAS).
In the pooled analysis, effect estimate (VAS) for pain intensity in patients performing physical activity vs comparators was −1.89 cm (95% CI, −2.96 to −1.09) and effect estimate for pain duration was −3.92 hours (95% CI, −4.86 to −2.97). Subgroup analysis by intervention demonstrated an effect size of -1.29 cm for aerobic exercise; -1.67 cm for stretching exercise; -1.81 cm for yoga; -1.68 cm for Kegels exercise. Primary studies were of low or moderate methodological quality, but results for pain intensity remained stable. Moderate-quality evidence was found for pain intensity and low-quality evidence was found for pain duration.
"Whilst physical activity is currently recommended in clinical guidelines for primary dysmenorrhoea, more high-quality studies are needed before this can be confirmed. Trials to evaluate the ideal type and timing of physical activity interventions for dysmenorrhea are also required,” the authors said.