Jill Durocher

‘Of Course, Women Will Adopt it!’: A Qualitative Study on the Acceptability of Medical Menstrual Regulation in Senegal

February 28th, 2022
Medical Abortion
Mary, M., Sene, I., Winikoff, B.

Sex Reprod Health Matters; 2022 Feb 28;32:100714. doi:10.1016/j.srhc.2022.100714. Online ahead of print. Print Vol. 32; June 2022; 100714

Objective: Medical menstrual regulation (MMR) may offer a promising way to reach Senegalese women and girls in need of fertility management, especially in rural contexts. To assess the feasibility of introducing a MMR service in Senegal, the study aimed to (1) understand how women and girls manage their menses and fertility, and (2) document acceptability of MMR among women, youth, and health providers.

Six focus group discussions and 34 in-depth interviews were conducted with women, youth, and health providers in Kaolack, Mbour, and Thiès, Senegal.

All participants characterized the pubescent period by a lack of sexual education, familial support, and access to reproductive health services. Reproductive health service utilization in Senegal was portrayed as highly stigmatized, creating barriers to contraception and reliable information on family planning. Unwanted pregnancy and clandestine abortion were depicted as common occurrences among many participants. Senegalese women and youth perceived MMR services as an acceptable method to manage a missed period with discretion, rid of moral and legal ramifications - and framed MMR as a needed mechanism to prevent abortion and avoid undesired pregnancies. The majority of health providers, with the exception of female health volunteers, were reluctant to endorse the service, comparing MMR to abortion.

In a context fraught with restrictive abortion laws and limited uptake of modern contraception, MMR is an acceptable among potential service users. Nonetheless, introduction and implementation of MMR will be feasible in Senegal only if policymakers approve and support the service and health provider buy-in is achieved.