Case records and commentaries in obstetrics and gynaecology
Rupani, Nilma P
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Premenstrual tension syndrome (PMTS) is currently receiving world wide attention due to the various problems associated with it such as aetiology, diagnosis, treatment and more so, the late psychological, psychiatric and criminal aspects associated with it. This study was carried out to determine the prevalence of premenstrual tension symptoms among nurses working at the Kenyatta National Hospital, their attitudes and practice towards these symptoms. A total of 400 nurses were involved in this study, 200 of whom were qualified and 200 were students, and the questionnaires were filled by "person to person" interview. The prevalence of premenstrual tension symptoms was found to be 95.5% in • the study group. Mastalgia was the commonest symptom (79%), followed by abdominal bloating (78%), acne (71%), mood swings (66%), irritability (66%) and weight gain (64%). Suicidal thoughts and tendencies, inability to cope, insomnia, food craving and forgetfulness were extremely rare in this study group. There was no correlation between age, marital state, parity and dysmenorrhoea and premenstrual tension symtoms, the prevalence of the latter being high. Of the 382 nurses with a lifetime history of premenstrual symptoms, 98.4% considered themselves "not sick" when experiencing these symptoms, and 99% gave a similar response pertaining to the attitude of the immediate family towards these symptoms. Ninety-nine percent of the affected nurses believed the PMTS symptoms to be a "normal" phase of their menstrual cycle. Twenty six percent of the nurses "change their activity" during the PMT phase; however, only 3 (0.8%) student nurses reported non attendance at school. 93.5% of the women with symptoms used no treatment while 3.1% used analgesics to control the symptoms. In conclusion, although this study group is not representative of the Kenyan women, it suggests that PMTS is prevalent in Kenya; however, due to the socia-economic and cultural differences, the attitude and practice of this population towards this syndrome is quite different from the Western population.