Dysmenorrhoea and coping strategies among secondary school adolescents in Ilala district, Tanzania
Background: Dysmenorrhoea is common problem among adolescents worldwide. Its prevalence varies greatly in different populations and ethnic groups. Adolescents with severe dysmenorrhoea may miss classes and other social activities. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and coping strategies for dysmenorrhoea among secondary school adolescents in Ilala municipal, Tanzania.
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in eight public and private secondary schools in Ilala municipal. A total of 880 girls in form II and form III who had attained menarche were interviewed using a self administered questionnaire between August and October 2007.
Results: The mean age at menarche was 13.3 years with the youngest at nine years and the oldest at sixteen years. Six hundred fifty two (74.1%) girls had dysmenorrhoea. Backache, breast tenderness and non specific joint pains were significantly more common symtoms among adolescents with dysmenorrhoea than without dysmenorrhoea. Medication was used by 362 (55.5 %) girls to relieve dysmenorrhoea. Commonest medications used were paracetamol and diclofenac. Adolescents who missed school due to dysmenorrhoea were 154 (23.6%) and 140 (21.5%) missed social activities.
Conclusions: High proportion of secondary school adolescents has dysmenorrhoea in Ilala municipal with a significant number missing school and social activities. Reproductive health education in primary and secondary schools should be enhanced to increase awareness and care seeking.