RESTRICTIONS DURING MENSTRUATION: PREVALENCE AND PERCEPTIONS OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS ATTENDING SCHOOLS OF CHANDIGARH
Dinesh Kumar*, Naveen Krishan Goel, Munesh Kumar Sharma and Gurleen Kaur
Background: Menstruation has continually been surrounded by secrecy and myths in various societies in India. Under societal pressures , adolescent girls are faced various taboos, myths and certain restrictions imposed during menstruation Despite the fact that menstruation is closely associated with reproductive health matter of females, community based research on this particular topic has been relatively unexplored among unmarried girls. Objective: To investigate prevalence of restrictions during menstruations and perceptions of school going girls regarding such restrictions. Methods: A cross sectional survey was conducted among 655 unmarried adolescents aged 14-19 years. Total 12 schools including 8 Government and 4 Private were selected. A stratified multistage random sampling was adopted to select girls within schools comprising two strata: Government and Private schools of Chandigarh. Results: There were 438 (66.9%) girls who reported comfortable family environment followed by 84(12.8%) reporting free and harmonious family environment. In spite of very low number of girls reporting restrictive family environment, there were 580(88.5%) girls who reported restrictions during menstruation. No reaction was reported by 74(11.3%) respondents while 420 (64.1%) accepted restrictions normally. There were 78 (11.9%) respondents who were angry and reacted on following menstrual restrictions. The most common restriction was on worship/religious activities: 487 (74.4%) followed by avoiding food items 275(42.0%) and lifting of weight 216(33.0%). Respondents adopted more into practice the restrictions like worship/religious activity 453(69.2%) followed by restriction on avoiding food items 257(39.2%). Lifting of weight was also actually followed by 225 (34.4%) respondents. Even some restrictions like consuming some food items in excess, entering kitchen activities were followed at even to greater extent than without imposing restrictions by their parents. Conclusions: The study concludes that some restrictions during menstruations are easily acceptable by girls and some of those restrictions are self imposed. These findings show that imposing unnecessarily the rigid and undesired restrictions on respondents cannot bring fruitful results as respondents are self disciplined in following restrictions to be followed during menstruation. Imposing unnecessary undesired restrictions on adolescent girls may result in psychosocial consequences affecting their reproductive health.
Keywords: Adolescent girls; Menarche; Menstrual restrictions; self imposed.
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