The role of parental versus partner support in how young females cope with menstrual pain


  • L. Caes
  • M. Christodoulou


Background: An important aspect of growing up is gaining independence from parents and relying more on peers for support. In relation to support in coping with pain experiences, it is however unknown whether young adults rely more on parental or peer/partner support and what the underlying mechanisms are explaining the influence of this social support. The current study aimed to explore the relative importance of parental versus partner support in how young females cope with menstrual pain. In addition, the role of pain-related self-efficacy as a mediator was explored. Methods: A sample of 94 females between 18–20 years of age (M=19.17, SD=0.77) participated in an online survey requesting them to report on their pain intensity and disability during menstruation, perceived level of parental support and partner support as well as their level of pain-related self-efficacy. Findings: No significant differences in pain during menstruation was reported by females in a romantic relation compared to single females. Parental support nor partner support directly influenced pain-related disability, while self-efficacy showed a strong negative association with disability. A trend was found for a positive association between parental support and pain-related self-efficacy, providing marginal support for an indirect relation between parental support and disability via pain-related self-efficacy. Discussion: The findings highlight the importance of resilience mechanisms such as self-efficacy, over and above social support in explaining how young females cope with menstrual pain. However, preliminary support was found for adaptive parental support, rather than partner support, in stimulating resiliency towards pain.