Context: Bangladesh is unique in including menstrual regulation (MR) services as part of the government family planning program, despite having a highly restrictive abortion law. The only national estimates of MR and abortion incidence are from a 1995 study, and updated information is needed to inform policies and programs regarding the provision of MR and related reproductive health services.
Methods: Surveys of a nationally representative sample of 670 health facilities that provide MR and postabortion care services and of 151 knowledgeable professionals were conducted in 2010, and MR service statistics of nongovernmental organizations were compiled. Indirect estimation techniques were applied to calculate the incidence and rates of MR and induced abortion.
Results: In 2010, an estimated 647,000 induced abortions were performed in Bangladesh, and 231,400 women were treated for complications of such abortions. Furthermore, an estimated 653,000 MR procedures were performed at facilities nationwide. However, an estimated 26% of all women seeking an MR at facilities were turned away, and about one in 10 of those who had an MR were treated for complications. Nationally, the annual abortion rate was 18.2 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, and the MR rate was 18.3 per 1,000 women.
Conclusions: The incidence of induced abortion is the same as that of MR, which suggests considerable unsatisfied demand for the latter service. Furthermore, the high rates of complications from MRs highlight the need to improve the quality of clinical services. Increased access to contraceptives and MR services would help reduce rates of unplanned pregnancy and unsafe abortion.