Influence of Family Background on Girls Attitude Towards Menstrual Hygiene in Nigeria

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1.1  Background to the Study
Adolescence is a stage of growth and development in which  major cognitive,
psychological, and physical changes take place. Although both pubertal boys and girls need
to adjust to new role expectations associated with this period of maturation, the physical
changes experienced are different for each sex. For girls,  one of the most memorable and
defining moments of adolescence is menarche, the first menstrual period (Ikaraoha,
Mbadiwe, Igwe and Akagwa, 2005).

Jane (2001) maintained that menarche is a traumatic event during which girls
experience a loss of freedom, power, and spontaneity and that there is a cultural denial of
menarche and menstruation which manifests itself as a decrease in girls’ self-esteem. Cultural
attitudes and family beliefs regarding menstruation  have been shown to have a significant
relationship to the reporting of menstrual symptoms (Jane, 2001).

The meaning of menstruation varies cross-culturally. In  some cultures, the symbolic
polluting power of menstruation  is considered the basis for negative feelings toward female
bodies and the oppression of women, while other cultures  emphasize the symbolic
enhancement of life forces by menstrual blood in rituals (Padez and Rocha, 2003). Ikaraoha
et al (2005) reported that attitudes toward menstruation  among women might be
characterized  into four themes: emphasis on biological processes,  being a normal part of a
woman’s life, link directly to pregnancy, and cleansing the system.

The notion of negativity surrounding  menstruation among families usually holds the
view of unclean menstrual  blood as pollutant, by the maintenance of secrecy and  seclusion
surrounding menstruation, and by physical discomfort  associated with menstruation. In
contrast, families with positive views  about menstruation posit that it revitalizes the body,
clears impurities and is indicative of childbearing potential (Moronkolu and Uzegbu, 2006).
It has been established that menstrual hygiene is influenced by such factors as
socioeconomic class, sports and genetic factors (Diegton, 1993). Studies have shown
that the age is another major factor determing menstrualhygiene especially in the
developed countries (Padez and Rocha, 2003). However, it has been postulated that this
might be due to either the effect of a ceasing improvement of environmental factors
/infrastructure facilities that take care of the young girl.

Many families lack the necessary knowledge about menstrual hygiene and some of
their children too lack accurate knowledge, while others are misinformed. Thus evidence of
menstrual maladjustment and menstrual related problems abound in the society. Future
research into the girls’ attitudes towards menstrual problems and those of their mothers
therefore is warranted. Health education targeting mothers may also benefit their daughters.
Primary health care workers could even encourage girls to adopt the menses chart once their
menarche is reached. Reviewing the menstrual chart with the girls may educate them and
rectify any misconception, and may also lead to earlier management of any underlying

Given this background, this research examines the family background of students and
how the socio-cultural, economic status, education of parents and religious views held by the
family affect menstrual hygiene among adolescents.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
Ignorance concerning sexuality and menstrual hygiene has been identified as a major
factor contributing to teenage pregnancies and infections in young people. menstruation is a
normal female biological milestone and abnormalities of menstruation are a major
gynaecological problem in adolescence. Menstrual disorders include menstrual irregularity,
menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, and other related symptoms. menstrual irregularity affects
female adolescents, and a frequent cause of absenteeism from school or restriction of daily
activity. Moreover, family beliefs and cultural practices may affect attitudes towards
menstruation, which in turn may influence the views of adolescents on menstrual hygiene. In
many communities, adolescents tend to underutilize health  care services, which may have a
significant impact on the physical and social health of those affected. By contrast, there is
little knowledge on adolescents’ health-seeking behaviour  in regard to menstrual problems.
Availability of such information could be important for the development of appropriate
health care services and in the promotion of menstrual hygiene among girls in Nigerian
secondary schools. The study is set to identify the influence of family background on
adolescents towards menstrual hygiene.

1.3 Research Questions
i.  Would there be difference between religious background of thefamily and
adolescents attitude toward menstrual hygiene?
ii.  Would there be difference between economic status of the parents affect adolescents
attitude toward menstrual hygiene?
iii.  Would there be difference between educational status of parents affect adolescents
attitude toward menstrual hygiene?
iv.  Would there be difference between cultural background of the family and adolescents
attitude toward menstrual hygiene?

1.5 Research Hypotheses
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1.6 Significance of the Study
This will aid our knowledge about sexual health education and how parents influence
the adolescents attitude toward menstrual hygiene.

It will also show why there is need for parents and the school managers should
develop effective communication on educating young people about health education.

This contributes to the types of characteristics that explain the level of influence parents and
religious leaders have on the sexuality and health education of adolescents.

This study will bring about understanding with regard to what problems learners
encounter and what causes their sexual health behaviour. This will then allow the
development of improved strategies of help or intervention either by the teachers or the

Lastly, it will serve as a contribution to knowledge in the subject area. In this regard,
it will be useful for other researchers who might want to carry out research in related

1.7  Delimitation of the Study
This research work is delimited to public secondary schools students in Ijebu-Ife
metropolis, an area of Ogun State. The simple percentage method of data analysis will be
adopted to test the variables of family background and adolescents attitude towards
menstrual hygiene.

1.8 Limitation of the Study
Apart from timeframe and shortage of finance, the major limitation to this
research is the inability of the researcher to cover the whole public secondary schools
in Ijebu-Ife metropolis as the title suggest.

1.9  Definition of Terms
Adolescence (from Latin:  adolescere meaning “to grow up”) is a transitional stage of
physical and psychological human development generally occurring between puberty and
In human context, a family (from Latin:  familia) is a group of people affiliated by
consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence.

Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining (endometrium). It occurs on a
regular basis in sexually reproductive-age females of certain mammal species. Regular
menstruation (also called eumenorrhea) lasts for a few days, usually 3 to 5 days, but anywhere
from 2 to 8 days is considered normal.

Menstrual Hygiene
Personal hygiene during menstruation includes bathing and showering, and buying and using
sanitary protection products.





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