The effect of biofeedback and relaxation on premenstrual syndrome

Georgia Kolokithas Konandreas, Pace University


Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) encompasses a cluster of affective, physiological, and psychological symptoms which appear cyclically in women several days before the onset of menses. Over 150 symptoms ranging from mild to incapacitating have been associated with PMS. There is a lack of consensus regarding the treatment of PMS. Treatment modalities range from pharmacological and dietary to behavioral. This proposal is concerned with the behavioral modalities, namely, biofeedback and relaxation. Studies analyzing the application of biofeedback to PMS are sparse. Biofeedback was first applied to dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. Only two studies have applied biofeedback to PMS. One of these studies (Dewitt, 1981) applied biofeedback to PMS as well as dysmenorrhea. The other study (Mathew et al., 1979) applied temperature biofeedback to PMS and concluded that temperature biofeedback appears to be valuable in treating PMS symptoms. However, other generalized, nonspecific factors, such as self awareness and relaxation, appear to play a major role in this type of treatment (Mathew et al., 1979). The present study evaluated the combination of biofeedback as effective agents in reducing premenstrual distress. Twenty-one women suffering from premenstrual distress were randomly assigned to two groups, (1) attention-control and (2) treatment. The attention-control group received one session of biofeedback and relaxation. The treatment group received 12 sessions of biofeedback and relaxation training. The goal of the treatment program was to target autonomic nervous system activity and to reduce sympathetic tone. Premenstrual distress levels were measured by the Moose Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ) and The Profile of Mood States Rating Scale (POMS). Group means were analyzed for differences. The analysis of co-variance revealed no significant treatment effect on the MDQ; however, a significant treatment effect was found on the POMS. It was concluded that, although biofeedback and relaxation were not helpful in reducing PMS symptoms as measured by the MDQ, they were helpful in improving the overall mood or well being of the subjects during the PMS week. Recommendations for future research included a larger n, more dependent measures, the use of subjects with very similar symptom profiles, and the combination of biofeedback and relaxation with other treatments, such as exercise and diet.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Konandreas, Georgia Kolokithas, "The effect of biofeedback and relaxation on premenstrual syndrome" (1989). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9011663.



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