oa Curationis - Menstrual knowledge and practices of female adolescents in Vhembe district, Limpopo Province, South Africa : original research
Background : Although sexual issues are openly discussed in the media, sexuality and reproductive functions are treated as taboo. Menstruation is a normal physiologic process, but carries various meanings within cultures and is rarely discussed amongst families and communities.
Purpose : This study sought to assess the knowledge and practices of secondary school girls towards menstruation in the Thulamela municipality of Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Methods : A quantitative descriptive study design was used and respondents were selected by means of convenience sampling from a population of secondary school girls. The sample consisted of 273 secondary school girls doing Grades 10-12. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data, which was analysed by computing frequencies and percentages using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 12).
Findings : The findings revealed that respondents experienced menarche at 13 years and that menstruation is a monthly bleeding (80%) that happens to every female; it is a sign of adulthood (91%). 15% reported that it is the removal of dirt from the stomach and abdomen, 67% indicated the source of menstruation being the uterus, 65% the vagina and 13% from the abdomen. 73% reported having fear and anxiety at the first experience of bleeding and that they could not maintain adequate hygienic practices due to a lack of privacy and sanitary towels.
Conclusion : Interventions are needed to increase girls' opportunities to discuss menstruation and access information from adults including mothers, parents and guardians. School-based sexuality education should be comprehensive, begin early and be regularly repeated.
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