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Papers: 16 Feb 2019 - 22 Feb 2019

Human Studies

2019 Feb 18

Sci Rep



Persistent autonomic dysfunction and bladder sensitivity in primary dysmenorrhea.


Oladosu FA, Hellman KM, Ham PJ, Kochlefl LE, Datta A, Garrison EF, Steiner ND, Roth GE, Tu FF
Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 18; 9(1):2194.
PMID: 30778114.


Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is a leading risk factor for bladder pain syndrome (BPS). A better understanding of the mechanisms that predispose dysmenorrheic women to BPS is needed to develop prophylactic strategies. Abnormal autonomic regulation, a key factor implicated in BPS and chronic pain, has not been adequately characterized in women with dysmenorrhea. Thus, we examined heart rate variability (HRV) in healthy (n = 34), dysmenorrheic (n = 103), and BPS participants (n = 23) in their luteal phase across a bladder-filling task. Both dysmenorrheic and BPS participants reported increased bladder pain sensitivity when compared to controls (p's < 0.001). Similarly, dysmenorrheic and BPS participants had increased heart rate (p's < 0.01), increased diastolic blood pressure (p's < 0.01), and reduced HRV (p's < 0.05) when compared to controls. Dysmenorrheic participants also exhibited little change in heart rate between maximum bladder capacity and after micturition when compared to controls (p = 0.013). Our findings demonstrate menstrual pain's association with abnormal autonomic activity and bladder sensitivity, even two weeks after menses. Our findings of autonomic dysfunction in both early episodic and chronic visceral pain states points to an urgent need to elucidate the development of such imbalance, perhaps beginning in adolescence.