The Effect of Polysubstance Use on Menstrual Cycle Length among Women in a Substance Abuse Recovery Program

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2021

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Sahu, Shweta
Felini, Martha

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Abstract

Purpose: Previous studies have found chronic conditions such as anemia are prevalent among marginalized women with co-occurring substance use disorders. We hypothesized that illegal drugs (including opioids) alter physiologic processes that impact menstrual cycles and tested whether polydrug use has a significant effect on menstrual cycle length among women in substance abuse treatment. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was performed on data abstracted from data collected through the cancer prevention project Sound Mind, Sound Body project (2012-2016). The dependent variable was polydrug use which was assessed as both a continuous (number of drugs used) and categorical measure (yes/no). The main independent variable was self-reported average menstrual cycle length (days). Potential confounding variables assessed included age, race/ethnicity, trauma history, and BMI. Chi-square p values and odds ratios (95% CI) were calculated using stratified analysis and logistic regression. Results: A total of 856 women of reproductive age reported a history of polydrug use (66%) and complex trauma (58%). The average cycle length was 5.15 days for polydrug users, and 5.10 days for single drug users. The association between polydrug use and abnormal cycle length was not statistically significant (OR = 1.30, 95% CI: 0.91-1.87, chi-square p value = 0.15). Conclusion: Our study found that while polydrug use is common, it did not significantly alter cycle length compared to single drug users. Patterns of substance use and more robust study design may better shed light on whether abnormal menstrual cycle length stems from polysubstance use.

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