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Access Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Premenstrual syndrome, physical activity, PMS, epidemiology, cross-sectional, exercise


It is estimated that up to 85% of premenopausal women experience at least one premenstrual symptom and 15-20% meet clinical criteria for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS has a high morbidity level and reduces the quality of life for many women of reproductive age, with pharmaceutical treatments having limited efficacy and substantial side effects. Physical activity has been recommended as a method of reducing menstrual symptom severity. However, little evidence exists to support a clear relationship between physical activity and PMS. Using a cross-sectional design, we evaluated the relationship between physical activity and PMS and menstrual symptoms among 186 women aged 18-30 who participated in the University of Massachusetts Vitamin D Study. PMS and menstrual symptoms were assessed with a modified version of the Calendar of Premenstrual Experiences. A total of 44 women met established criteria for PMS, while 46 met criteria for controls. Physical activity was assessed using a validated questionnaire and calculated as metabolic equivalent task-hours (METs) per week. Diet and other lifestyle factors were assessed by questionnaire. After adjusting for age and depression diagnosis, we found that each 10 MET-hour/week increase in physical activity was associated with a non-significant 3% increase in prevalence of PMS (95% CI: 0.94-1.14). After adjusting for BMI and percent body fat, results were similar (OR=1.02, 95% CI: 0.93-1.13). We found no evidence that physical activity was associated with the occurrence of specific menstrual symptoms among all 186 women. Results do not support a significant relationship between physical activity and prevalent PMS.

First Advisor

Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson

Included in

Epidemiology Commons