Mexican Adolescents’ Experience of Menarche and Attitudes Toward Menstruation: Role of Communication Between Mothers and Daughters
First, to explore the kind of information that Mexican mothers give their daughters about menstruation before their menarche, and to study the impact of this communication on how prepared the daughters felt when they experienced their menarche. Second, to investigate the influence of the menarcheal experience on attitudes toward menstruation. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.
Settings: Sample of adolescents attending 3 different public schools.
Participants: 405 Mexican postmenarcheal adolescents, aged 12-15 years.
Intervention: Participants answered a questionnaire that had 3 parts: (a) General data, (b) topics related to menses that participants had discussed with their mothers prior to menarche, and (c) menarcheal experience. They also answered a questionnaire about menstrual attitudes.
Results: Although most of the participants knew what they should do when they experienced their menarche, only 39% stated they had felt prepared to start menstruating. Regarding menstrual attitudes, adolescents scored highest on Negative Feelings and Secrecy rather than on Positive Feelings. Participants who had previously discussed the emotional aspects of menses with their mothers were more likely to claim they had felt prepared to start menstruating when they got their first period (OR = 3.45). The fact that adolescents felt prepared to start menstruating predicted positive attitudes toward menstruation (β = .19)
Conclusions: Discussing the emotional aspects of menses prior to menarche is crucial to being prepared for menarche, and to holding positive attitudes toward menstruation. Information on biological knowledge and practical aspects of menses needs to be supplemented with emotional issues.