LSTM Home > LSTM Research > LSTM Online Archive

A rite of passage: a mixed methodology study about knowledge, perceptions and practices of menstrual hygiene management in rural Gambia


Downloads per month over past year

Shah, Vishna, Nabwera, Helen, Sosseh, Fatou, Jallow, Yamundao, Comma, Ebrima, Keita, Omar and Torondel, Belen (2019) 'A rite of passage: a mixed methodology study about knowledge, perceptions and practices of menstrual hygiene management in rural Gambia'. BMC Public Health, Vol 19, Issue 277.

Shah_ Rite of passage_MHM_BMC Public Health_2019.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Background: Appropriate menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is impeded by taboos and secrecy surrounding menstruation. Unhygienic menstrual practices and unpreparedness for managing menstruation has been associated with adverse health and social outcomes among adolescent girls. In The Gambia, there is limited data on menstrual practices among girls and women in rural communities and the sources of information about menstruation for the adolescents. This study aimed to explore knowledge, preparedness and practices of menstruation and its management
among adolescents, mothers and teachers in rural Gambia.
Methods: A mixed methods study was conducted in the rural Kiang West district of The Gambia. Twenty focus group discussions and thirteen in-depth interviews were conducted among mothers, adolescents and teachers to explore their views on menstruation, cultural beliefs, sources and level of knowledge on menstruation and MHM practices. In addition, a survey was done among 331 school girls to assess their knowledge, practices and attitudes of menstruation and its management. Inductive content analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data, and descriptive analysis and
chi-squared tests were used to analyse quantitative data.
Results: All participants had different levels of knowledge about menstruation. Knowledge score was higher among post-menarche girls compare with pre-menarche girls (p = 0.0001). All groups expressed difficulties, embarrassment and shame in relation to discussing menstruation. Two thirds of the surveyed girls reported having learnt aboutmenstruation before menarche, however at menarche most felt unprepared. Teachers were the main source of
information, but when asking for advice most girls preferred to ask their mothers. Mothers reported facing difficulties in discussing menstruation with their children and felt that boys did not need to be taught about it, however boys were very curious to know about. Most girls used reusable cloth unless they are given free pads from school.
Conclusion: Taboos, secrecy and embarrassment associated with discussing menstruation hinder adolescents from seeking advice from parents and teachers on appropriate MHM practices. Strategies to encourage positive social norms towards menstruation would help to promote more open discussions about it at the family, community and national level, which will support improvements in MHM in this and similar communities in low and middle income settings.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 18 Education
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 309 Women's health
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WA Public Health > WA 4 Works on general hygiene
WP Gynecology > WP 100 General works
WP Gynecology > Anatomy. Diseases. Injuries > WP 400 General works
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Stacy Murtagh
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2019 11:34
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2019 11:34


View details

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item