Long-term exposure to air pollution, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Public Health (a multi-disciplinary open-access journal), can raise the chance of painful and regular period cramps.
This is based on studies by scientists at Taiwan's China Medical University Hospital. The researchers examined data from 296,078 Taiwanese women, aged 16 to 55, who had no history of dysmenorrhea (a gynaecological issue associated with period pains) prior to the year 2000.
Their long-term exposure to contaminants in the air, such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and PM2.5 (particulate matter), was included in the data. According to the data, 4.2 per cent of women suffered from dysmenorrhea between 2000 and 2013.
This included younger women, most of whom lived in metropolitan areas and had lesser wages. However, it was discovered that women living in 25 per cent of the most polluted areas had a 16.7 per cent to 33.1 per cent higher probability of being diagnosed with dysmenorrhea than women living in 25 per cent of the least polluted areas. Women who were exposed to the PM2.5 pollution had the highest likelihood of being diagnosed.
Professor Chung Y. Hsu, one of the authors of the study explains, “Research has already shown that women who smoke or drink alcohol during their periods, or who are overweight, or have their first period very young, run a greater risk of dysmenorrhea. Women who have never been pregnant are likewise known to be at greater risk. But here we demonstrate, for the first time, another important risk factor for developing dysmenorrhea: air quality, in particular long-term exposure to pollution.”
Chung further added, “Our study results demonstrate the major impact of the quality of air on human health in general, here specifically on the risk of dysmenorrhea in women and girls. This is a clear illustration of the need for actions by governmental agencies and citizens to reduce air pollution, in order to improve human health.”