Background: Research into menstrual hygiene management (MHM) has been mainly based on menstruation-related knowledge and practices of women and girls in the mainstream Bangladeshi society; socially disadvantaged groups, such as the Bihari refugee women, have largely been ignored.
Purpose: This study aims to assess knowledge and practices about MHM among Bihari women in the Mohammadpur Geneva Camp in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Methods: In 2017, a cross-sectional survey was conducted among Bihari women and girls by the trained interviewers using a structured questionnaire. The purposive sampling was applied to select 160 Bihari women aged between 15 and 49. Data were entered, cleaned, and analysed using SPSS software. Both univariate and bivariate analyses were undertaken to examine knowledge and MHM-related practices with a significance level of p<0.01.
Results: Overall, most women (59.4%) had low knowledge about menstruation. More than one-quarter (27.0%) used disposable sanitary napkins. The Bihari women who did not use sanitary pads (73%) reported that they used old disposable clothes (59.83%), reusable cloths (25.64%), cotton (9.40%), or toilet tissue paper (4.27%). Around two-thirds of the women (68.0%) performed special baths and 36.9% followed socio-cultural taboos during menstruation. The bivariate analyses revealed that higher menstruation knowledge was associated with higher use of disposable sanitary napkins (low knowledge: 18.9%, high knowledge: 38.5%; p<0.01).
Conclusions: The findings suggest that it is imperative for Bihari women to have adequate and appropriate menstruation knowledge so that they can maintain good menstrual hygiene practices. The findings highlight challenges experienced by the refugee women in maintaining MHM and can be used to improve women’s reproductive health and well-being and reduce the risk of reproductive tract infections (RTI) among socially disadvantaged women.
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