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Menstrual regulation: examining the incidence, methods, and sources of care of this understudied health practice in three settings using cross-sectional population-based surveys
Authors: Suzanne O. Bell, Mridula Shankar, Funmilola OlaOlorun, Elizabeth Omoluabi, Anoop Khanna, Danish Ahmad, Georges Guiella and Caroline Moreau
Source: BMC Women's Health, Volume 23; DOI:
Topic(s): Unmet need
Women's health
Country: Africa
  Cote D'Ivoire
Published: FEB 2023
Abstract: Background: Menstrual regulation is a practice that may exist within the ambiguity surrounding one’s pregnancy status and has been the subject of limited research. The aim of this study is to measure the annual rate of menstrual regulation in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, and Rajasthan, India, overall and by background characteristics and to describe the methods and sources women use to bring back their period. Methods: Data come from population-based surveys of women aged 15–49 in each setting. In addition to questions on women’s background characteristics, reproductive history, and contraceptive experiences, interviewers asked women whether they had ever done something to bring back their period at a time when they were worried they were pregnant, and if so, when it occurred and what methods and source they used. A total of 11,106 reproductive-aged women completed the survey in Nigeria, 2,738 in Cote d’Ivoire, and 5,832 in Rajasthan. We calculated one-year incidence of menstrual regulation overall and by women’s background characteristics separately for each context using adjusted Wald tests to assess significant. We then examined the distribution of menstrual regulation methods and sources using univariate analyses. Method categories included surgery, medication abortion pills, other pills (including unknown pills), and traditional or "other" methods. Source categories included public facilities or public mobile outreach, private or non-governmental facilities or doctors, pharmacy or chemist shops, and traditional or "other" sources. Results: Results indicate substantial levels of menstrual regulation in West Africa with a one-year incidence rate of 22.6 per 1,000 women age 15–49 in Nigeria and 20.6 per 1,000 in Cote d’Ivoire; women in Rajasthan reported only 3.3 per 1,000. Menstrual regulations primarily involved traditional or “other” methods in Nigeria (47.8%), Cote d’Ivoire (70.0%), and Rajasthan (37.6%) and traditional or “other” sources (49.4%, 77.2%, and 40.1%, respectively). Conclusion: These findings suggest menstrual regulation is not uncommon in these settings and may put women’s health at risk given the reported methods and sources used. Results have implications for abortion research and our understanding of how women manage their fertility.