Hong Kong Med J 2009;15:18-23 | Number 1, February 2009
Menstrual problems and health-seeking behaviour in Hong Kong Chinese girls
Symphorosa SC Chan, KW Yiu, PM Yuen, DS Sahota, Tony KH Chung
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To ascertain the prevalence of menstrual problems in adolescent girls and their health-seeking behaviour.
DESIGN. Questionnaire survey on menstruation, menstrual problems, medical consultation, and factors influencing girls seeking medical care.
SETTING. Secondary schools in the catchment area of a tertiary teaching hospital in Hong Kong.
PARTICIPANTS. A total of 5609 girls from 10 secondary schools.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Prevalence of menstrual problems and health-seeking behaviour of adolescent girls.
RESULTS. The mean age of the girls and their mean age at menarche were 15.1 (standard deviation, 2.0) years and 12.3 (1.1) years, respectively. The prevalence of menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, and menstrual symptoms were 17.9% (95% confidence interval, 16.9-19.1%), 68.7% (67.7-70.3%), and 37.7% (36.7-39.3%), respectively. The prevalence of menstrual symptoms (P<0.001) and dysmenorrhoea (P<0.001) increased with gynaecological age (calendar age minus age at menarche), whilst the proportion having short or long cycles decreased (P=0.002 and P=0.009). One in eight girls reported having been absent from school, whilst only 6.4% had sought medical care because of menses. Multivariate analysis indicated that seeking medical care for menorrhagia was dependent on the opinion of a family member (P=0.005), and for dysmenorrhoea on its severity (P=0.046) and anxiety about embarrassing questions (P=0.039).
CONCLUSIONS. The prevalence of menstrual problems in Hong Kong Chinese girls is high and causes significant disruption to their school and daily activities. However, only a minority seek medical advice.
Key words: Adolescent; Menarche; Menstruation disturbances; Patient acceptance of health care; Prevalence
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