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Papers of the Week

Papers: 14 Mar 2020 - 20 Mar 2020

Human Studies

2020 Mar 08


Dysmenorrhea subtypes exhibit differential quantitative sensory assessment profiles.


Hellman KM, Roth GE, Dillane KE, Garrison EF, Oladosu FA, Clauw DJ, Tu FF
Pain. 2020 Mar 08.
PMID: 32168005.


Women who develop bladder pain syndrome (BPS), irritable bowel syndrome, or dyspareunia frequently have an antecedent history of dysmenorrhea. Despite the high prevalence of menstrual pain, its role in chronic pelvic pain emergence remains understudied. We systematically characterized bladder, body, and vaginal mechanical sensitivity with quantitative sensory testing in women with dysmenorrhea (DYS, n = 147), healthy controls (HCs) (n = 37), and women with BPS (n = 25). Previously, we have shown that a noninvasive, bladder-filling task identified a subset of women with both dysmenorrhea and silent bladder pain hypersensitivity, and we repeated this to subtype dysmenorrhea sufferers in this study (DYSB; n = 49). DYS, DYSB, and BPS participants had lower vaginal mechanical thresholds and reported more pain to a cold stimulus during a conditioned pain modulation task and greater pelvic examination after-pain than HCs (P's < 0.05). DYSB participants also had reduced body mechanical thresholds and less conditioned pain modulation compared to HCs and DYS participants (P's < 0.05). Comparing quantitative sensory testing results among the DYS and HC groups only, provoked bladder pain was the only significant predictor of self-reported menstrual pain (r = 0.26), bladder pain (r = 0.57), dyspareunia (r = 0.39), and bowel pain (r = 0.45). Our findings of widespread sensory sensitivity in women with dysmenorrhea and provoked bladder pain, much like that observed in chronic pain, suggest a need to study the trajectory of altered mechanisms of pain processing in preclinical silent visceral pain phenotypes to understand which features convey inexorable vs modifiable risk.