Background: Menstrual cycle characteristics are linked to reproductive function and long-term health outcomes. This study aimed to evaluate menstrual cycle patterns, characterized by regularity and length, and associated factors among women in the Korea Nurses’ Health Study. Methods: A total of 9335 premenopausal women aged 22–45 years were included in this cross-sectional study. Regularity and length of menstrual cycles were self-reported, and their associations with reproductive, lifestyle, and occupational factors were examined using binomial and multinomial logistic regression models. Adjusted least-square means of menstrual distress, depressive symptoms, stress, fatigue, anxiety, and sleep problems were estimated according to menstrual cycle characteristics using generalized linear models. Results: Twenty-one percent of nurses reported having irregular menstrual cycles (variability > 7 days). Ten percent, 64%, and 26% had menstrual cycle length of < 26, 26–31, and 32–50 days, respectively. Variability and length of cycles decreased with age and increased with age at menarche. Parous women showed low tendency of irregular cycles. Women with body mass index (BMI) > 25 kg/m2 had higher odds of irregular (odds ratio [OR] 1.68; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.40–2.03) and long cycles (OR 1.31; 95% CI 1.08–1.58) than those with BMI 18.5– < 23 kg/m2. Irregular cycles were less common in women performing vigorous physical activity, but more common in those with prolonged standing or frequent heavy lifting at work. Frequent rotating night shift was associated with irregular cycles among nulliparous women. Levels of menstrual and premenstrual distress, depressive symptoms, perceived stress, physical and mental fatigue, anxiety, and sleep problems were higher in women with irregular cycles than in those with regular cycles (p < 0.001, each). Conclusions: The study suggests that irregular and long menstrual cycles are associated with reproductive, lifestyle, and occupational factors; also with menstrual distress and perceived health status. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of potential risk factors for menstrual dysfunction, and thus, may help improve women’s health.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Korea National Institute of Health, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (2021-NI-015-00, 2021-NI-015-01, 2013-E63006-00, 2013-E63006-01).
© 2022, The Author(s).
- Environmental factor
- Menstrual cycle
- Reproductive history