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Menstrual characteristics and prevalence of menstrual disorders among secondary school girls in rural Gambia

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Background: Menstruation is a normal physiological process in women of reproductive age and abnormalities can be associated with it. This study is conducted to determine menstrual characteristics and the prevalence of menstrual disorders among secondary school girls of rural Gambia and its effects on the life-style of these girls particularly absenteeism at school.

Method: A prospective cross-sectional survey was carried out among girls of age 13- 24 years from three different school in Soma Town, Lower River Region of The Gambia using self-administered questionnaire. The data was entered into computer database and analysed using the SPSSS version 26.

Results: The mean age of menarche was 13.86±1.26 years with a wide range (8- 17years). Most (69.4%) participants declared their periods as regular and mean menstrual cycle was 26.28±3.25 days with most (58.3%) had moderate menstrual flow with mean duration of flow was 4.9±1.3 days. Most (69.4%) participants used sanitary pads. Dysmenorrhea was reported by 85.2% of the participants; majority (47.5%) had moderate pain and only 46.8% used analgesics for dysmenorrhea. Majority (94.6%) of the participants had associated symptoms with menstruation; tiredness, mood changes and pain were the three highest reported symptoms. School absenteeism was reported by 34.5% of the participants and painful menstruation was the highest reported cause. Most (58.0%) reported life-style affected by menstruation; attending school, casual work at home and relationship with friends were the three highest affected activities reported due painful menstruation. Almost (99.5%) all have received some information about menstruation either from parents, teachers, friends and others.

Conclusion: Mean age at menarche was 13.86±1.26. Most girls suffer from dysmenorrhea which affects their school attendance and other life-style activities. Almost all have received some information about menstruation.


menstrual characteristics, dysmenorrhea, menstruation, prevalence