Attitudes and beliefs of the experience of menstruation in female students at the University of the Western Cape
Menstruation is a normal physiological process that has been distorted and riddled with negative connotations. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the biological factor, age at menarche, influences the attitudes and beliefs of the experience of menstruation; whether the psychological factor, preparedness, has an impact on the attitudes and beliefs of the experience of menstruation; and whether the socio-cultural factor, population group, affects the attitudes and beliefs of the experience of menstruation. The biopsychosocial model was used to guide this study as it examined the biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors that impact the attitudes and beliefs of the experience of menstruation. In this quantitative study, simple random sampling was used to recruit a sample of 200 female students from the University of the Western Cape, ages 18-21 years. Surveys containing biographic information as well as questions from the Beliefs and Attitudes Towards Menstruation questionnaire (BATM) were administered. The results indicated that there were significant associations between population group and level of secrecy as well as level of preparedness and level of pleasantness, annoyance and disability associated with menstruation. Results also revealed significant differences between normal and late onset of menarche on the level of disability associated with menstruation. Ethical guidelines stipulated by the University of the Western Cape were strictly adhered to. Research focusing on the attitudes and beliefs of the experience of menstruation will contribute to the knowledge base of menstruation in the South African context, as well as informing interventions which focus on educating women about menstruation so as to promote positive attitudes and prevent forms of social control imposed on women because of menstruation.