The Impact of Hormonal Birth Control Status on Premenstrual Symptoms in College Students Ages 18-22

Thursday, 16 July 2009: 11:10 AM

Marlene Adams, PhD, RN
Thomas Hardie, EdD, RN, CS, NP
School of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE

Learning Objective 1: identify the impact of hormonal birth control status on premenstrual symptom count in women ages 18-22.

Learning Objective 2: identify the impact of hormonal birth control status on level of interference in women ages 18-22.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the effects of hormonal contraceptive (HC) status on the frequency of premenstrual symptoms and their level of interference in women's lives.

Methods: The instruments used were a brief demographic questionnaire and the Premenstrual Symptoms Screening Tool (PSST). The demographic questionnaire inquired about grandparental origin, age, medication use, mental health and social support. The PSST is a likert-type scale for rating the severity of premenstrual symtpoms and the level of interference these symptoms have in women's daily lives. The scale ranges from 0 (not at all) to 3 (severe). This study was conducted using a convenience sample of Caucasian female students ages 18-22 at a large university in the mid-atlantic region. Three hundred surveys were distributed and a total of 280 valid responses meeting the specific criteria were used for the study. Of the participants, 150 were currently taking HC, 21 had taken HC within the last six months, and 109 did not take HC at all.

Results: Using two independent ANCOVA's, statistically significant differences were found in symptom count among women currently taking HC (fewer symptoms) compared with the women who stopped taking HC within the past six months (F=4.38, df=2, P=0.013) and in  level of interference among women currently taking HC (less interference) and those not currently taking HC (F=3.65, df=2, P=0.027).  

Conclusion: Study findings suggest that women currently taking HC cope more effectively with premenstrual symptoms than women who stopped taking HC within the last six months. Replication of this study is needed using a random sample of women from campuses across the country to validate and increase generalizability of findings. Developing nursing interventions to help women discontinuing HC cope with increased premenstrual symptoms should be considered.