Adolescent Girls' Perceptions of and Preparation for Menarche

Barbara-Ann Janes, Janice M. Morse

Abstract


Menarche is probably the most important event of puberty for girls, marking the turning point in the transition from girl to woman (Brooks-Gunn & Ruble, 1983; Koff, Rierdan & Jacobson, 1981; Rierdan, 1983; Ruble & Brooks-Gunn, 1982). Despite this, little is known about the menarche experience. As a result, adolescent girls may not be as prepared as they could be for such an important life event. This may be because in our culture menstruation is considered private and embarrassing, and communication about the topic is limited.
Some investigators suggest that adequate preparation for menarche may correlate with more positive experiences (Golub & Catalano, 1983). However, Whisnant and Zegans (1975) discovered that, although subjects reported that they were intellectually prepared, they still experienced distress at menarche. Such distress or negative experience with menarche may lead to subsequent menstrual dysmenorrhea (Clark & Ruble, 1978; Woods, Dery, & Most, 1982) and may also have a negative effect on ensuing female sexuality (Rierdan & Koff, 1980). Morse and Doan (1987) examined responses from adolescent girls about their preparation for menstruation and found that many were dissatisfied with the information they received. Negative feelings about menstruation were reported by 69% of their sample and approximately 9% reported that they were unprepared. Further research on perceptions and preparation for menarche was recommended.

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