Experiences and Perceptions of Menopause among women in Ibadan South East Local Government area, Nigeria
Menopausal experiences and perceptions of menopausal women in Ibadan South East Local Government Area were determined. A three-stage sampling technique was used to select the LGA, wards, and participants for the study. Eight Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted and a validated questionnaire was used to interview 240 participants aged between 46 to 69 years. Five questions were used to assess participants’ knowledge with each question attracting 1 point thus culminating to a maximum of 5 points. Data from the FGD were recorded on audio-tapes, transcribed and subjected to content analysis. Descriptive and Chi-square test statistics were used to analyze the quantitative data. The mean age of participants was 56.9 ± 6.2 years. The mean age at menopause was 46.1 ± 2.5 years. Eighty-five percent of participants had ever heard about menopause and the participants’ major source of information included close relatives (75.5%). The mean knowledge score for menopause using a 5-point scale was 2.8 ±1.0. Only 28.0% of the participants could state at least one symptom of menopause and 4.1% could list the risks associated with it. Fifty-four percent who scored above the mean knowledge score had positive attitude towards menopause regarding it as a natural occurrence. Seventy percent had the belief that sexual intercourse causes sickness for menopausal women. The belief of 60.8% of the participants was that women should not tell anyone about their menopausal experiences. Eighty-three percent had experienced at least one out of the 19 common symptoms of menopause. Discomforting experiences attributed to menopause included dryness of the vagina (81.3%), pain during intercourse (76.7%) and joint pains (74.2%). Only 32.9% took action to alleviate the discomforts. Actions taken included self-medication (47.4%), adoption of sexual abstinence (13.0%) among others. Illnesses perceived to be associated with menopause included: fibroid (34.4%), weakness of the body (30.0%) and protruding stomach (18.0%). FGD revealed that many of the participants were of the opinion that sex should be avoided by menopausal women in order to prevent adverse effects associated with menopause. There are gaps in knowledge, wrong perceptions and use of inappropriate palliative measures regarding menopause among the participants. Public enlightenment and community-based patient education interventions are needed to address these challenges.
Keywords: Menopausal experiences; perception; symptoms and palliative measures