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Smoking Linked to Severe Period Pain

Update Date: Nov 17, 2014 06:41 PM EST

Smoking can increase the risk of severe period pain in women who start the habit by the age of 13, according to a new study.

While most women will experience dysmenorrhoea, or period discomfort, during their reproductive lives, statistics show that the pain is severe in up to 29 percent of women.

While smoking has been suspected as a potential risk factor for chronic severe period pain, previous studies have been inconclusive.

The latest study involved 9,000 women who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.

Researchers noted that around 7 percent of women involved in the study had started smoking by the ages of 13, and additional 14 percent had started between 14 and 15. Study data indicated that 8 percent of women had started smoking before they began having monthly periods.

The participants were divided into four groups depending on the type and duration of period pain they experienced.

Researchers noted that 42 percent of participants were part of the "normative" group that suffered no or few period symptoms. Eleven period were part of the "late onset" group who suffered period pain from 15 percent to 70 percent of the time.  Thirty-three percent of women were part of the "recovering group," who suffered less period pain from 40 percent between the ages of 22 and 27, to 10 percent by 34 to 39. The remaining 14 percent were put in the "chronic" group who suffered very frequent period pain of between 70 percent and 80 percent throughout the monitoring period.

The findings revealed that current smokers who started smoking by the age of 13 were significantly more likely to suffer chronic period pain compared to those who had never smoked.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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