Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 297–310 | Cite as

Behavioral treatment parameters with primary dysmenorrhea

  • Daniel J. Cox
  • Robert G. Meyer


Fourteen women with primary dysmenorrhea were administered four sessions of systematic desensitization (SD) by either a male or a female therapist. The following measures were taken during the flow periods before and after treatment and at a 6-month follow-up: menstrual symptom checklist, medication usage, invalid hours, and menstrual attitudes. At pretreatment, menstrually distressed women had significantly higher scores on all measures compared to a normative group and an explicitly nondistressed group. At posttreatment, treated women's scores on the dependent variables were significantly reduced. All indices were reduced to a “nondistressed level” at posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. Type of dysmenorrhea (congestive vs. spasmodic), trait anxiety level, and therapist sex did not predict differential responsiveness to SD. SD did not affect frontalis EMG, peripheral blood flow, or pain threshold. A Retrospective Symptom Scale of menstrual distress was found to be highly reliable, valid, and sensitive.

Key words

menstrual cycle primary dysmenorrhea systematic desensitization behavior therapy menstrual symptoms 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel J. Cox
    • 1
  • Robert G. Meyer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Virginia Medical CenterCharlottesville
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LouisvilleLouisville

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