Relationships Among Premenstrual Symptom Reports, Menstrual Attitudes, and Mindfulness

Abstract

The physical and affective symptoms of a broad range of conditions are improved following mindfulness-based practices. One set of symptoms that has yet to be explored through the lens of mindfulness, however, is that associated with the premenstruum. Also, given the relationships among negative attitudes towards menstruation and amplified symptom reporting, it is reasonable to expect that mindfulness qualities cultivated through practices aimed at dispelling negative anticipatory and judgmental thinking will moderate these relationships. Thus, in this study we examined interrelationships among premenstrual symptom severity reports (PMSR), menstrual attitudes, and mindfulness qualities in a sample of 127 women (age range 18-26 years). Results revealed several statistically significant positive relationships between menstrual attitudes and PMSR. Also, higher scores on measures of mindfulness were significantly associated with lower PMSR. Moderating effects revealed that mindfulness significantly buffered the relationships between menstrual attitudes and PMSR, specifically between: anticipation of menses onset and PMSR as well as anticipation of menses onset and premenstrual water retention. These results may offer the first empirical evidence of relationships among menstrual attitudes, PMSR, and mindfulness qualities. Results from this study align with the body of research showing that mindfulness is predictive of improved symptomatology and well-being across varied conditions. We conclude with discussion supporting the development of a mindfulness-based intervention aimed at reducing symptom severity in premenstrual symptom sufferers.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Aiken, L. A., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Allen, S. S., McBride, C. M., & Pirie, P. L. (1991). The shortened premenstrual assessment form. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 36, 769–772.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Allen, S. S., Hatsukami, D., Christianson, D., & Brown, S. (2000). Effects of transdermal nicotine on craving, withdrawal and premenstrual symptomatology in short-term smoking abstinence during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2, 231–241.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2000). ACOG practice bulletin: Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists number 15, April 2000; Premenstrual Syndrome. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 15, 3–8.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Aubeeluck, A., & Maguire, M. (2002). The menstrual joy questionnaire items alone can positively prime reporting of menstrual attitudes and symptoms. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 160–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baer, R. A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 125–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27–45.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bowen, S., Chawla, N., Collins, S., Witkiewitz, K., Hsu, S., Grow, J., et al. (2009). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for substance use disorders: A pilot efficacy trial. Substance Abuse, 30, 295–305.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Broadbent, B. E., Cooper, P. F., Fitzgerald, P., & Parkes, K. R. (1982). The cognitive failures questionnaire (CFQ) and its correlates. The British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 21, 1–16.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Brooks-Gunn, J., & Ruble, D. N. (1980). The menstrual attitude questionnaire. Psychosomatic Medicine, 42, 503–512.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Campagne, D. M., & Campagne, G. (2007). The premenstrual syndrome revisited. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, 130, 4–17.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Carmody, J., & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31, 23–33.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Carpenter, M. J., Upadhyaya, H. P., LaRowe, S. D., Saladin, M. E., & Brady, K. T. (2006). Menstrual cycle phase effects on nicotine withdrawal and cigarette craving: A review. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 8, 627–638.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., et al. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564–570.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Dell, D. L. (2004). Diagnostic challenges in women with premenstrual symptoms. Primary Psychiatry, 11, 41–46.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dye, L., Warner, P., & Bancroft, J. (1995). Food craving during the menstrual cycle and its relationship to stress, happiness of relationship and depression: A preliminary enquiry. Journal of Affective Disorders, 34, 157–164.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Epstein, E. E., Rhines, K. C., Cook, S., Jensen, N. K., McCrady, B. S., & Zdep-Mattocks, B. (2006). Changes in alcohol craving and consumption by phase of menstrual cycle in alcohol dependent women. Journal of Substance Use, 11, 323–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Flannery, B. A., Volpicelli, J. R., & Pettinati, H. M. (1999). Psychometric properties of the Penn Alcohol Craving Scale. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 23, 1289–1295.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Forbes, G. B., Adams-Curtis, L. E., White, K. B., & Holmgren, K. M. (2003). The role of hostile and benevolent sexism in women’s and men’s perceptions of the menstruating woman. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27, 58–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Greeson, J. M. (2009). Mindfulness research update: 2008. Complementary Health Practice Review, 14, 10–18.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Halbreich, U., Borenstein, J., Pearlstein, T., & Kahn, L. S. (2003). The prevalence, impairment, impact, and burden of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMS/PMDD). Psychoneuroendocrinology, 28, 1–23.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K. D., & Wilson, K. G. (1999). Acceptance and commitment therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Hill, A. J., & Heaton-Brown, L. (1994). The experience of food craving: A prospective investigation in healthy women. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 38, 801–814.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Holzel, B. K., Ott, U., Gard, T., Hempel, H., Weygandt, M., Morgen, K., et al. (2008). Investigation of mindfulness meditation practitioners with voxel-based morphometry. SCAN, 3, 55–61.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Ivanoski, B., & Malhi, G. S. (2007). The psychological and neurophysiological concomitants of mindfulness forms of meditation. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 19, 76–91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living. New York: Dell.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, M. D., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K. E., Pbert, L., et al. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 936–943.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Kowalski, R. M., & Chapple, T. (2000). The social stigma of menstruation: Fact or fiction? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 74–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kristeller, J. L., & Hallett, C. B. (1999). An exploratory study of meditation-based intervention for binge eating disorder. Journal of Health Psychology, 4, 357–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Kroll, R., & Rapkin, A. J. (2006). Treatment of premenstrual disorders. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 51, 359–370.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D. N., Treadway, M. T., et al. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. NeuroReport, 16, 1893–1897.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Lustyk, M. K. B., & Gerrish, W. G. (2008). Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Issues of quality of life, stress, and exercise. In V. A. Preedy & R. R. Watson (Eds.), Handbook of disease burdens and quality of life measures. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Lustyk, M. K. B., Widman, L., Paschane, A., & Ecker, E. (2004). Stress, quality of life and physical activity in women with varying premenstrual symptomatology. Women & Health, 39, 35–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Lustyk, M. K. B., Beam, C. R., Miller, A. C., & Olson, K. C. (2006). Relationships among perceived stress, premenstrual symptomatology and spiritual well-being in women. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 34, 311–317.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Lustyk, M. K. B., Widman, L., & Becker, L. (2007). Relationship of abuse history with premenstrual symptomatology: Assessing the mediating role of perceived stress. Women & Health, 46, 61–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Lustyk, M. K. B., Chawla, N., Nolan, R., & Marlatt, G. A. (2009a). Mindfulness meditation in research: A discussion of safety issues and participant screening procedures. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, 24, 20–30.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Lustyk, M. K. B., Gerrish, W. G., Shaver, S., & Keys, S. L. (2009b). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: A systematic review. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 12, 85–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Mayer, J. L., & Farmer, R. F. (2003). The development and psychometric evaluation of a new measure of dissociative activities. Journal of Personality Assessment, 80, 185–196.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Michener, W., Rozin, P., Freeman, E., & Gale, L. (1999). The role of low progesterone and tension as triggers of premenstrual chocolate and sweets craving: Some negative experimental evidence. Physiology & Behavior, 67, 417–420.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Mitchell, E., Fugate-Woods, N., & Lentz, M. (1991). Recognizing PMS when you see it: Criteria for PMS sample selection. In D. L. Taylor & N. Fugate-Woods (Eds.), Menstruation, health, and illness (pp. 89–102). New York: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Orsillo, S. M., Roemer, L., & Barlow, D. H. (2003). Integrating acceptance and mindfulness into existing cognitive-behavioral treatment for GAD: A case study. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 10, 222–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Ostafin, B. D., & Marlatt, G. A. (2008). Surfing the urge: Experiential acceptance moderates the relation between automatic alcohol motivation and hazardous drinking. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 27, 404–418.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Rapkin, A. (2003). A review of treatment of premenstrual syndrome & premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 28, 39–53.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Reed, S. C., Levin, F. R., & Evans, S. M. (2008). Changes in mood, cognitive performance and appetite in the late luteal and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle in women with and without PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Hormones and Behavior, 54, 185–193.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Rembeck, G. I., Moller, M., & Gunnarsson, R. K. (2006). Attitudes and feelings towards menstruation and womanhood in girls at menarche. Acta Pediatrica, 95, 707–714.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Rubia, K. (2009). The neurobiology of meditation and its clinical effectiveness in psychiatric disorders. Biological Psychology, 82, 1–11.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Segal, Z., Teasdale, J. D., & Williams, M. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, J. A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62, 373–386.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Sinha, R. (2008). Modeling stress and drug craving in the laboratory: Implications for addiction treatment development. Addiction Biology, 14, 84–98.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Sinha, R., & Li, C.-S. R. (2007). Imaging stress- and cue-induced drug and alcohol craving: Association with relapse and clinical implications. Drug and Alcohol Review, 20, 25–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Stoddard, J. L., Dent, C. W., Shames, L., & Bernstein, L. (2007). Exercise training effects on premenstrual distress and ovarian steroid hormones. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 99, 27–37.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Tang, Y., Ma, Y., Wang, J., Fan, Y., Feng, S., Lu, Q., et al. (2007). Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104, 17152–17156.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z., & Williams, J. M. G. (1995). How does cognitive therapy prevent depressive relapse and why should attentional control (mindfulness) training help? Behavior Research and Therapy, 33, 25–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Trout, K. K., Basel-Brown, L., Rickels, M. R., Schutta, M. H., Petrova, M., Freeman, E. W., et al. (2008). Insulin sensitivity, food intake, and cravings with premenstrual syndrome: A pilot study. Journal of Women’s Health, 17, 657–665.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA, n.d.). Yaz approval label. PDF. Retrieved June, 10, 2007 from http://www.fda.gov/.

  57. Witkiewitz, K., Marlatt, G. A., & Walker, D. (2005). Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for alcohol and substance use disorders. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 19, 211–228.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Wittchen, H. U., Perkonigg, A., & Pfister, H. (2003). Trauma and PTSD—An overlooked pathogenic pathway for premenstrual dysphoric disorder? Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 6, 293–297.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Woods, N. F., Derry, G. K., & Most, A. (1982). Recollections of menarche, current menstrual attitudes, and perimenstrual symptoms. Psychosomatic Medicine, 44, 285–293.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  60. Woods, N. F., Most, A., & Longnecker, G. D. (1985). Perimenstrual symptoms. Nursing Research, 34, 263–267.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Kathleen B. Lustyk.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lustyk, M.K.B., Gerrish, W.G., Douglas, H. et al. Relationships Among Premenstrual Symptom Reports, Menstrual Attitudes, and Mindfulness. Mindfulness 2, 37–48 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-011-0041-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Premenstrual Symptomatology
  • Menstrual Attitudes
  • Mindfulness
  • Women
  • Menses