Author(s): Tegegne TK, Sisay MM
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Adolescence in girls has been recognized as a special period marked with the onset of menarche. Even though menstruation is a natural process, it is associated with misconceptions, malpractices and challenges among girls in developing countries. However, much is not documented; school-absenteeism and dropout are a common problem among girls in rural Ethiopia. Focusing among school girls, this study has examined knowledge about menstruation, determinants of menstrual management and its influence on school-attendance in Northeast Ethiopia. METHODS: We conducted a mixed-method research combining quantitative and qualitative methods in Northeast Ethiopia. The quantitative study was conducted among 595 randomly selected adolescent school girls. Nine in-depth interviews; five school-dropout girls and four female teachers, and four focus group discussions among school girls were conducted in 2013. RESULTS: The mean age at menarche was 13.98 (±1.17) years. About 51\% of girls had knowledge about menstruation and its management. Only a third of the girls used sanitary napkins as menstrual absorbent during their last menstruation. Girls from urban areas, had mothers of secondary and above education and, families of higher monthly expenditure had more chance of using sanitary napkins than their counterparts. More than half of the girls reported to have been absent from school during their menstruation period. Those who did not use sanitary napkins were more likely to be absent from school [AOR-95\% C.I: 5.37 (3.02 - 9.55)]. Fifty eight percent of girls reported that their school-performance had declined after they had menarche. In addition, the qualitative study indicated that school-dropout was common among girls who experienced teasing and humiliation by classmates when their clothes were stained with blood as they do not use sanitary napkins. CONCLUSION: Though there is an effort to increase girls' school enrollment, lack of basic needs, like sanitary napkins that facilitate routine activates of girls at early adolescence are observed to deter girls' school-attendance in rural Ethiopia. Special support for girl students, especially when they have their first menstruation and separate functioning sanitary facilities are necessities that should be in school at all times if gender equality and girls empowerment is to be achieved.
This article was published in BMC Public Health
and referenced in Journal of Health Education Research & Development