Background: Menstruation and menstrual practices are still clouded by taboos and socio-cultural restrictions resulting in adolescent girls remaining ignorant of the scientific facts and hygienic health practices, which sometimes result into adverse health outcomes.
Objectives: (i) To elicit the beliefs, conception and source of information regarding menstruation among the study population and (ii) to find out the status of menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls.
Materials and methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted among 160 adolescent girls of a secondary school situated in the field practice area of Rural Health Unit and Training Center, Singur, West Bengal, with the help of a pre-designed and pre-tested questionnaire. Data were analyzed statistically by simple proportions.
Results: Out of 160 respondents, 108 (67.5%) girls were aware about menstruation prior to attainment of menarche. Mother was the first informant regarding menstruation in case of 60 (37.5%) girls. One hundred and thirty-eight (86.25%) girls believed it as a physiological process. Seventy-eight (48.75%) girls knew the use of sanitary pad during menstruation. Regarding practices, only 18 (11.25%) girls used sanitary pads during menstruation. For cleaning purpose, 156 (97.5%) girls used both soap and water. Regarding restrictions practiced, 136 (85%) girls practised different restrictions during menstruation.
Conclusions: Menstrual hygiene, a very important risk factor for reproductive tract infections, is a vital aspect of health education for adolescent girls. Educational television programmes, trained school nurses/health personnel, motivated school teachers and knowledgeable parents can play a very important role in transmitting the vital message of correct menstrual hygiene to the adolescent girl of today.
Keywords: Adolescent girl; RTI; menstrual hygiene; reproductive tract infections; sanitary pad.