Menstrual restrictions among young females in urban slums of Cochin

Maya Chacko, Charutha Retnakumar, Devraj Ramakrishnan, Leyanna Susan George, Vijayakumar Krishnapillai


Background: Menstruation is associated with taboos and socio-cultural restrictions. The social and cultural significance of menstruation interacts with the physiological process to produce culturally determined norms and practices. This study was conducted among young females aged 15-35 years from urban slums of Kochi, India. The objective was to assess prevalence, factors, and patterns of restrictions faced by young females during menstruation.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 130 young females in three urban slums of Kochi. A pre-formed pretested questionnaire was used. Data were analysed statistically by simple proportions.

Results: Only 8.8% young females felt they had restrictions during menstruation but when asked in detail 88% had socio-religious restrictions. Source for restrictions was traditionally followed patterns 60.8%, patterns taught by elderly mainly mother or mother in law 11.2% and self-imposed restrictions 28%. Reasons for restriction are that 14.4% considered it was good and give rest to the body, 8% women think they are unclean and 57.6% women fear to disobey religious restrictions. 77.6% of Women felt these restrictions are necessary and 40.8% felt restrictions do not need change. Out of 22.4% who felt religious restrictions were unnecessary only 1.6% were affected by religious restrictions.

Conclusions: Only a few (8.8%) felt they had restrictions and more than two-third had restrictions (88%) and felt these restrictions are necessary (77.6%). This paper explains restrictions practiced and the origin of such restrictions during menstruation. The key issues identified from the community will be an asset to combat restrictions.


Menstrual restrictions, Urban slums, Cross sectional study

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