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Menstruation in Rural Igbo Women of South East Nigeria: Attitudes, Beliefs and Practices

OUJ Umeora
VE Egwuatu


Many cultures hold on to different beliefs and retain community-defined restrictions for menstruating women. The Igbo society of southeast Nigeria is rich in culture, myths and superstitions but, surprisingly no documentation exists on menstrual beliefs and practices among the population. This questionnaire-based cross sectional study supplemented with in-depth interviews evaluated the beliefs, myths and traditional practices associated with menstruation within rural Igbo communities. It revealed that the
menstrual egress is of great significance in Igbo culture and must be disposed of carefully to avoid exposure to witchcraft and rituals. Some respondents observed self-imposed restrictions on exercises, food items, visits and sex in order to maintain physical and spiritual cleanliness, lessen discomfort and avoid embarrassment. Gynaecologists working in this region should utilize the opportunities of clinical consultations to discuss
menstrual health issues with their female patients and educate them on the physiology and significance of menstruation.

Keywords: Culture, menstruation, Igbo, myth, hygiene.

African Journal of Reproductive Health Vol. 12 (1) 2008: pp. 109-115