Predictors of puerperal menstruation

PLoS One. 2020 Jul 10;15(7):e0235888. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235888. eCollection 2020.


Background: Puerperal period is an important and thought-provoking period for puerperal mothers. Surprisingly, reports have indicated that there is increasing number of women resuming menstruation within six weeks of childbirth (puerperal menstruation). To the best of knowledge, there is no prior study on predictors of puerperal menstruation.

Objective: To determine frequency and predictors of puerperal menstruation.

Methods: This was a single tertiary health institution cross-sectional study at ESUT Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu, Nigeria that included data from May 2015 to December 2018. Women were interviewed at the end of the first six weeks of their childbirth. Women with HIV positive or had uterine rupture or peripartum hysterectomy were excluded. Bivariate analysis was performed by the chi-squared test and conditional logistic regression analysis was used to determine variables associated with puerperal menstruation. Statistical significance was accepted when P- value is <0.05.

Results: A total of 371 women met the inclusion criteria. The return of menses within 6 weeks was present in 118(31.8%) women versus 253 (68.2%) women without puerperal menstruation, given a ratio of 1:3. Of the 371 women, 249 (67.1%) were on exclusive breastfeeding. The significant associated risk factors were age (p = 0.009), parity (p<0.001), early use of family planning (p = 0.001), socio-economic status (p<0.001) and manual removal of placenta (p = 0.007). At conditional logistic regression analysis, early use of family planning (p = 0.001), exclusive breastfeeding (p = 0.027) and manual removal of placenta (p = 0.012) were independently associated with puerperal menstruation. Induction/augmentation of labor, postpartum misoprostol use and mode of delivery were not statistically significant (p>0.05, for all).

Conclusion: One in 3 women resumes menstruation within 6 weeks of childbirth. The major predictor was early initiation of family planning, and exclusive breastfeeding with manual removal of placenta a major protective factor. These interesting issues require further investigation to better understand the mechanism of puerperal menstruation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Family Planning Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation
  • Menstruation*
  • Nigeria
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.