Although menarche and menstruation are perceived to be overwhelmingly negative events for developmentally-disabled women, women’s health issues remain under-researched in autism. Here, we conducted a preliminary investigation of the experiences of post-menarcheal autistic (n = 123) and non-autistic (n = 114) respondents to a brief online survey. Although autistic respondents reported many overlapping issues and experiences with non-autistic respondents, they also highlighted distinct—and sometimes-distressing—issues relating to menstruation, especially a cyclical amplification of autistic-related challenges, including sensory differences and difficulties with regulating emotion and behavior, which had a significant, negative impact on their lives. These initial findings call for systematic research on the potential causes, correlates and consequences of menstrual-related problems in autistic individuals—across the spectrum and the lifespan.
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- women’s health
- sensory sensitivities