A study on menstrual hygiene among rural adolescent girls

Indian J Med Sci. 1994 Jun;48(6):139-43.


Menstruation is a phenomenon unique to the females. It is clear from the study findings that majority of the girls were having correct knowledge about menstruation. Regarding the practices, only 10 girls were using boiled, and dried cloth as menstrual absorbent. Though almost all 64 girls received advice regarding menstrual hygiene from different sources, some of their practices were unhygienic. This shows that the mothers of these girls were lacking of right knowledge and the same thing was transferred to their off springs. Before bringing any change in menstrual practices they should be educated about the facts of menstruation and its physiological implications. The girls should be educated about the significance of menstruation and development of secondary sexual characteristics, selection of a sanitary menstrual absorbent and its proper disposal. This can be achieved through educational television programmes, school nurses/Health personnel, compulsory sex education in school curriculum and knowledgeable parents, so that she does not develop psychological upset and the received education would indirectly wipe away the age old wrong ideas and make her to feel free to discuss menstrual matters without any inhibitions.

PIP: In India, interviews were conducted with 65 females 14-15 years old attending a rural high school in Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh to learn their knowledge and practices about menstruation. All the students attained menarche at 12-13 years. The menstrual cycle was 26-28 days in length for 42 students. Menstrual bleeding lasted for 3-5 days for 52 students. Even though 43 knew that menstruation is a physiological process, 12, 4, and 5 thought it to be a curse from God, caused by a sin, and a disease, respectively. About 50% knew that hormones were responsible for menstruation. 18 believed weight gain caused it. Most students (51) knew that menstrual bleeding originated from the uterus. Other sites mentioned were abdomen, intestines, and kidneys. 48 received information about menstruation from their mothers. Other information sources included grandmothers, friends, and sisters. All but one used old cloth during menstruation. 25 reused the cloth. 16 disposed of the used cloth through Dhoby. 13 put it into a canal. 52 took special baths during menstruation. 27 students cleaned the external genitalia with only water. Only three students used water and soap. More than 50% were restricted from household work, taking part in religious activities, attending marriages, and playing during menstruation. 13 were restricted from attending school during menstruation. 38 would rest more often during menstruation than at other times. Foods restricted during menstruation included milk and milk products (20), vegetables (14), and prasadam (7). Some ate more quantities of dry coconut (15), Dhal (11), and jaggery and sweets (8) to maintain good health. These findings show the need for education about menstruation through several channels (e.g., TV, school nurses, health personnel, compulsory sex education in school, and knowledgeable parents).

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene*
  • Menstruation*