BACKGROUND: Menstruation has important implications on the physical and emotional well-being of adolescents' reproductive health.
PURPOSE: This study aimed to investigate the perception towards menstruation and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), to provide insight into menstrual-related education information in order to help adolescent girls manage the physical and psychological changes associated with menstruation.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 1,092 adolescent females from 94 schools in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A self-administered semi-structured questionnaire was used in the data collection.
RESULTS: The results showed the mean scores on the menstrual attitude questionnaire to be 2.80 (SD ±1.88) out of six. A total of 80.7% and 83.6% of the participants experienced one or more affective and somatic symptoms respectively in the premenstrual phase. Irritability, mood swing and tension were the three most frequently reported affective symptoms, while fatigue and menstrual cramps were highly prevalent somatic symptoms in both the premenstrual and menstrual phases. The effects on functional impairment and quality of life, in order of importance, include poor class concentration, restriction of social and recreational activities, difficulty to mingle with friends, and poor class performance. Despite the evident impact, only 10.3% of adolescent girls consulted doctors for PMS symptoms, while one-third did nothing about their condition. There were ethnic differences in the seeking of treatment for PMS.
CONCLUSION: The study calls for an education program related to PMS and menstrual-related disorders to provide information and support to adolescents. This will help them to cope better with menstrual-related problems, and encourage positive attitudes to menstruation.