Background: Premenstrual disorders such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) interfere with the daily lives of adolescents. The causes of PMS and PMDD are unknown, but lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise and taste preference are known to be associated. This study was conducted to investigate how premenstrual symptoms affect the school life in Japanese high school students and whether there was a risk factor for school absenteeism that is dependent on the types of premenstrual symptoms or lifestyle habits. Methods: A school-based survey was conducted in Sendai, an industrial city in Japan. A total of 901 girls aged 15-19 with regular menstrual cycles were assessed using the self-reporting premenstrual symptoms questionnaire (PSQ) and questions regarding school absence, taste preference, and exercise. We classified the girls into 'no/mild PMS', 'moderate-to-severe PMS' and 'PMDD' according to the PSQ. The girls were classified into the 'absent' group if they were absent for more than 1 day per month. We used multivariate logistic analysis to examine the risk factors for school absenteeism. Results: The rates of 'moderate-to-severe PMS' and 'PMDD' were 9.9 and 3.1 %, respectively. A total of 107 girls (11.9 %) were classified into the 'absent' group. Significant differences were observed in the prevalence of all premenstrual symptoms (p < 0.001), 'age' (p < 0.001), 'a preference for salty food' (p = 0.001), and 'lack of regular exercise' (p = 0.03) between the 'absent' and 'non-absent' groups. Multivariate analysis revealed that premenstrual symptoms such as 'insomnia or hypersomnia' (odds ratio [OR] 2.27, 95 % confidence interval [CI]: 1.46-4.17) and 'physical symptoms' (OR 2.24, 95 % CI: 1.37-3.66), 'reduced social life activities' (OR 2.71, 95 % CI 1.31-5.59), and 'a preference for salty food' (OR 1.89, 95 % CI: 1.20-2.98) were risk factors for school absenteeism. Conclusions: One in nine Japanese female high school students were absent from school due to premenstrual symptoms. Physical premenstrual symptoms and lifestyles, such as a preference for salty food and a lack of regular exercise, were identified as risk factors for school absenteeism.
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