Background: The experience of menstruation and reproductive health by adolescent girls has been poorly studied in New Zealand.
Aims: To develop and pilot a Web‐based survey of 16‐year‐olds’ experience of menstruation and reproductive health with the eventual objective of conducting a larger population‐based survey. A secondary aim was to report on the experience of menstrual and reproductive health in a group of 16‐year‐old girls in an urban setting.
Methods: A Web‐based survey was developed and tested in 2006 with assistance of a multidisciplinary advisory group. The final version of the questionnaire had 146 questions in 11 sections and the topics were menstrual history, general health including use of medications, access to medical care or health information, sexual health, family history and personal information including smoking, height, weight, ethnicity, paid employment of parents, drug and alcohol use and exercise patterns.
Results: Seventy‐five 16‐year‐old students completed the survey. Twenty‐five per cent considered that their periods were quite a bit or a lot of trouble and 10% avoided certain activities during their menstrual periods, nearly 50% of girls always experienced some pain with every period, and 30% had seen a health professional about their period pains. Thirty‐three stated that menstruation was moderately to severely painful and that daily activity was affected. Fifty per cent of girls were sexually active and of these 80% described it as painful.
Conclusions: The Web‐based survey was a successful approach to collecting information and could be used in a larger study.