Background: Research on premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is generally rare in the Gulf countries, a region with unique cultural features that might influence expectations and self-perception of the disease.
Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of PMS and measure its impact on school performance and absenteeism among secondary school female adolescents in Jeddah 2013 (1434h).
Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional study among female students enrolled in governmental secondary schools in Jeddah during September 2013(1434h), provided that they haven`t other diseases that mimic PMS symptoms. Multistage random sampling technique was adopted to select students. Self-administered questionnaire formulated by the researcher, adapted from previous similar studies. Questionnaire was divided into two sections; questions related to personal characteristics and questions to assess PMS symptoms and its affect on school performance and absenteeism.
Results: The study included 396 secondary school girls. Their age ranged between 14 and 20 years with a mean of 17.03±1.06 years. Almost two-thirds of them (64.3%) were Saudi. The age of menarche was 13 years among 29.3% of the respondents while it was 12 or 14 years among 27.8% and 17.9% of them respectively. Almost half of them (50.3%) had irregular menstrual cycles in the last three cycles. The prevalence of premenstrual syndrome among secondary school girls was 59.2%. It was not significantly associated with any of the studied socio-demographic variables or menstrual characteristics. Majority of respondents (87.2%) believed that PMS is a usual phenomenon while 12.8% believed that it is an unusual phenomenon and should be mentioned to physicians. More than half of secondary school girls with PMS (53.6%) reported a history of treatment for it. Majority of respondents (91.9%) reported history of school absenteeism because of PMS symptoms. More than half of female students with PMS (55.5%) reported impact of PMS symptoms on their academic level and most of them (77.5%) reported impact of PMS on their awareness and understanding of lessons.
Conclusions: PMS is a common problem among secondary school adolescents in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Although it is a prevalent problem, it is defined by the majority of school girls as a usual phenomenon doesn`t necessitate medical consultation. It adversely affects their educational performance, representing a significant public health problem.