On-line version ISSN 0379-8577
RAMATHUBA, Dorah U.. Menstrual knowledge and practices of female adolescents in Vhembe district, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Curationis [online]. 2015, vol.38, n.1, pp. 1-6. ISSN 0379-8577. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v38i1.1551.
BACKGROUND: Although sexual issues are openly discussed in the media, sexuality and reproductive functions are treated as taboo. Menstruation is a normal physiologic process, but carries various meanings within cultures and is rarely discussed amongst families and communities. PURPOSE: This study sought to assess the knowledge and practices of secondary school girls towards menstruation in the Thulamela municipality of Limpopo Province, South Africa. METHODS: A quantitative descriptive study design was used and respondents were selected by means of convenience sampling from a population of secondary school girls. The sample consisted of 273 secondary school girls doing Grades 10-12. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data, which was analysed by computing frequencies and percentages using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 12). FINDINGS: The findings revealed that respondents experienced menarche at 13 years and that menstruation is a monthly bleeding (80%) that happens to every female; it is a sign of adulthood (91%). 15% reported that it is the removal of dirt from the stomach and abdomen, 67% indicated the source of menstruation being the uterus, 65% the vagina and 13% from the abdomen. 73% reported having fear and anxiety at the first experience of bleeding and that they could not maintain adequate hygienic practices due to a lack of privacy and sanitary towels. CONCLUSION: Interventions are needed to increase girls' opportunities to discuss menstruation and access information from adults including mothers, parents and guardians. School-based sexuality education should be comprehensive, begin early and be regularly repeated.