COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE AGE AT MENARCHE AND FACTORS INFLUENCING THE ONSET OF MENARCHE: CASE OF YAOUNDE AND BAMOUGOUM

NKENGAZEM NERRY TANKALA (nerrynkengazem@yahoo.com)
Gynaecogy and Obstetrics, University of Yaounde I
June, 2017
 

Abstract

Background:Menarche is the first menstrual flow of the female. It occurs at a mean age of 12.16 years in black American girls, and 12.88 years in white American girls according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG). In Cameroon, in 1999, it was reported that menarche occurs at a mean age of 13.18 ±1.08 years in girls in urban areas; 13.98 ± 1.55 years in girls in suburban areas; and 14.72 ±1.18 years in girls in rural areas. Studies show that urbanization has greatly influenced the age at menarche and a number of factors have been found to collectively or individually influence it.
The objective was to determine the age at menarche in rural (Bamougoum) and urban (Yaoundé) settings, while identifying factors influencing age at onset of menarche among girls aged 9 to 16years.
Methods: We conducted from 1st October to 30th March a cross sectional survey targeting female students aged 9 to 16 years in Yaoundé town and Bamougoum village. Participants were included by a randomized cluster sampling and data collected using an auto-administrable questionnaire. Data was analyzed using the statistical software Epi-Info version 3.5.4. With a statistically significant threshold set at p-value≤0.05, the odds ratio was used as the measure of association between age at menarche and selected covariates.
Results: 1157 participants were included in the study, 49.3% were from an urban setting and 50.7% from a rural setting. The ages of the participants ranged from 10 to 16years with a median age of 15.0 years. Majority of parents of participants of the urban setting had attained higher education (52.98%), whereas in the rural setting, majority of parents ended at primary school (33.73%). Regarding the knowledge of our participants, 67.20% of rural participants had good knowledge as concerns puberty, menarche and menstrual cycle whereas only 46.00% had good knowledge of it in the urban setting. The mean age at menarche in our study population was 12.76±1.33years, with a mean age of menarche in the urban setting (Yaoundé) of 12.48±1.12years and in the rural setting (Bamougoum) of 13.03±1.46years. Urban/rural resident, the number of parents alive, occupation of the parents, quality of nutrition, overweight/obesity and first sexual contact before/after menarche was found to have statistically significant associations with age at menarche.
Conclusion: The age of the onset of menarche in girls aged 9 to 16 years in Yaoundé is significantly lower compared to the age at menarche in their Bamougoum counterparts (p-value<0.001). Participants from Bamougoum however have a comparatively better knowledge compared to their Yaoundé counterparts. The age of the onset of menarche is significantly influenced by Urban/rural resident, the number of parents alive, occupation of the parents, quality of nutrition, overweight/obesity and first sexual contact before/after menarche.
Key words: Age, Menarche, puberty , Cameroon


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