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1.  A systematic review of effectiveness and safety of different regimens of levonorgestrel oral tablets for emergency contraception 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:54.
Unintended pregnancy is a complex phenomenon which raise to take an emergency decision. Low contraceptive prevalence and high user failure rates are the leading causes of this unexpected situation. High user failure rates suggest the vital role of emergency contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Levonorgestrel - a commonly used progestin for emergency contraception. However, little is known about its pharmacokinetics and optimal dose for use. Hence, there is a need to conduct a systematic review of the available evidences.
Randomized, double-blind trials were sought, evaluating healthy women with regular menstrual cycles, who requested emergency contraception within 72 h of unprotected coitus, to one of three regimens: 1.5 mg single dose levonorgestrel, two doses of 0.75 mg levonorgestrel given 12 h apart or two doses of 0.75 mg levonorgestrel given 24 h apart. The primary outcome was unintended pregnancy; other outcomes were side-effects and timing of next menstruation.
Every trial under consideration successfully established the contraceptive effectiveness of levonorgestrel for preventing unintended pregnancy. Moreover, a single dose of levonorgestrel 1.5 mg for emergency contraception supports its safety and efficacy profile. If two doses of levonorgestrel 0.75 mg are intended for administration, the second dose can positively be taken 12–24 h after the first dose without compromising its contraceptive efficacy. The main side effect was frequent menstrual irregularities. No serious adverse events were reported.
The review shows that, emergency contraceptive regimen of single-dose levonorgestrel is not inferior in efficacy to the two-dose regimen. All the regimens studied were very efficacious for emergency contraception and prevented a high proportion of pregnancies if taken within 72 h of unprotected coitus. Single levonorgestrel dose (1.5 mg) can substitute two 0.75 mg doses 12 or 24 h apart. With either regimen, the earlier the treatment is given, the more effective it seems to be.
PMCID: PMC3977662
Levonorgestrel; Oral contraceptive; Emergency contraception; Two dose regimen; Postcoital contraception; Single dose strategy; Contraceptive efficacy; Unintended pregnancy; Postcoital hormonal contraceptives
2.  Gender: shaping personality, lives and health of women in Pakistan 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:53.
Gender norms determine the status of Pakistani women that influence their life including health. In Pakistan, the relationship between gender norms and health of women is crucial yet complex demanding further analysis. This paper: determines the reasons for reiteration of gender roles; describes the societal processes and mechanisms that reproduce and reinforce them; and identifies their repercussions on women’s personality, lives and health especially reproductive health.
As part of a six-country study titled ‘Women’s Empowerment in Muslim Contexts’, semi-structured group discussions (n = 30) were conducted with women (n = 250) who were selected through snowballing from different age, ethnic and socio-economic categories. Discussion guidelines were used to collect participant’s perceptions about Pakistani women’s: characteristics, powers, aspirations, needs and responsibilities; circumstances these women live in such as opportunities, constraints and risks; and influence of these circumstances on their personality, lifestyle and health.
The society studied has constructed a ‘Model’ for women that consider them ‘Objects’ without rights and autonomy. Women’s subordination, a prerequisite to ensure compliance to the constructed model, is maintained through allocation of lesser resources, restrictions on mobility, seclusion norms and even violence in cases of resistance. The model determines women’s traits and responsibilities, and establishes parameters for what is legitimate for women, and these have implications for their personality, lifestyle and health, including their reproductive behaviours.
There is a strong link between women’s autonomy, rights, and health. This demands a gender sensitive and a, right-based approach towards health. In addition to service delivery interventions, strategies are required to counter factors influencing health status and restricting access to and utilization of services. Improvement in women’s health is bound to have positive influences on their children and wider family’s health, education and livelihood; and in turn on a society’s health and economy.
PMCID: PMC3978051  PMID: 24690271
3.  Factors influencing adherence to regular exercise in middle-aged women: a qualitative study to inform clinical practice 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:49.
About half of women decrease their regular exercise during middle age. Concurrently, they experience a reduction in basal metabolic rate and loss of lean muscle as they transition to menopause. The combined effects place these women at increased risk for body weight gain and associated co-morbidities. Further research is required to better assess their barriers to regular exercise and to develop more applied knowledge aimed to improve the applicability of clinical interventions aimed at this population. The main aim of this study was to identify enablers and barriers influencing adherence to regular exercise in middle-aged women who exercise.
An interpretive description qualitative study was conducted using individual interviews. The two key questions were focused on planning to engage in physical activity and succeeding or planning to engage in physical activity and not succeeding. Inductive content analysis was used.
Fifty-three women interviewed were aged 40–62 years and experiencing mild to moderate menopausal symptoms. Six broad themes influencing adhering to regular exercise were: routine, intrinsic motivation, biophysical issues, psychosocial commitments, environmental factors, and resources. Common sub-themes were identified as enabling factors: daily structure that incorporated physical activity (broad theme routine), anticipated positive feelings associated with physical activity (intrinsic), and accountability to others (psychosocial). Other common sub-themes identified as barriers were disruptions in daily structure (routine), competing demands (routine) and self-sacrifice (psychosocial).
The most common barrier middle-aged women describe as interfering with adhering to regular exercise was attributable to the demands of this life stage at home and with others. Lack of time and menopausal symptoms were not identified as the common barriers. To support women to adhere to regular exercise, healthcare professionals should consider a narrative approach to assessing barriers and focus on enablers to overcoming identified barriers.
PMCID: PMC3975263  PMID: 24666887
Women; Middle-life; Physical activity; Barriers; Qualitative study; Enablers
4.  Magnitude and risk factors of abortion among regular female students in Wolaita Sodo University, Ethiopia 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:50.
Induced abortion is one of the greatest human rights dilemmas of our time. Yet, abortion is a very common experience in every culture and society. According to the World Health Organization, Ethiopia had the fifth largest number of maternal deaths in 2005 and unsafe abortion was estimated to account for 32% of all maternal deaths in Ethiopia. Youth are disproportionately affected by the consequences of unsafe abortion. The objective of this study was, therefore, to determine the magnitude and identify factors associated with abortion among female Wolaita Sodo University students.
A descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted in Wolaita Sodo University between May and June 2011. Data were collected from 493 randomly selected female students using structured and pre-tested questionnaires.
The rate of abortion among students was found to be 65 per 1000 women, making it three fold the national rate of abortion for Ethiopia (23/1000 women aged 15–44). Virtually all of the abortions (96.9%) were induced and only half (16) were reported to be safe. Students with history of alcohol use, who are first-year and those enrolled in faculties with no post-Grade 10 Natural Science background had higher risk of abortion than their counterparts. About 23.7% reported sexual experience. Less than half of the respondents (44%) ever heard of emergency contraception and only 35.9% of those who are sexually experienced ever used condom.
High rate of abortion was detected among female Wolaita Sodo University students and half of the abortions took place/initiated under unsafe circumstances. Knowledge of students on legal and safe abortion services was found to be considerably poor. It is imperative that improved sexual health education, with focus on safe and legal abortion services is rendered and wider availability of Youth Friendly family planning services are realized in Universities and other places where young men and women congregate.
PMCID: PMC3983888  PMID: 24666926
Abortion; Induced abortion; Abortion law; University students; Youth sexual reproductive health; Youth sexual experience
5.  Demand for long acting and permanent contraceptive methods and associated factors among married women of reproductive age group in Debre Markos Town, North West Ethiopia 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:46.
Ethiopia is the second most populous country in sub Saharan Africa with high total fertility rate, and high maternal and child mortality rates. In sub Saharan African countries, including Ethiopia, even though studies show that demand for contraception is high, the practice is low. Particularly, in Ethiopia, despite the fact that practices on long acting and permanent methods are believed to be low, there are limited evidences on the real magnitude of demand for the methods.
To assess demand for long acting and permanent contraceptive methods and associated factors among married women of reproductive age group in Debre Markos town, Amhara Regional State, North West Ethiopia, A community based cross sectional study was conducted, from April 08–19, 2012. Systematic sampling technique was used to select 523 study participants. Pre tested structured Amharic version questionnaire was used to collect the data through interview. Both bivariate and multiple logistic regressions were used to identify associated factors.
Among 519 respondents, 323 (62.2%) were using modern family planning (FP) methods in which 101 (19.5%) were using long acting and permanent contraceptive methods (LAPMs). Among all respondents, 171 (32.9%) had unmet need for LAPMs. The total demand for LAPMs was 272 (52.4%) of which 37.1% were satisfied and 62.9% unsatisfied demand. Being in the older age group (40-44 years) [AOR = 2.8; 95% CI:1.12, 9.55], having no desire for more child [AOR = 20.37; 95% CI:9.28, 44.72], desire to have a child after 2 years [AOR = 6.4; 95%CI:3.04,13.47], not ever heard of modern FP [AOR = 5.73; 95% CI:1.26, 25.91], not ever using of modern FP [AOR = 1.89; 95% CI:1.01, 3.55] and having no spousal discussion in the last six month [AOR = 1.642, 95% CI: 1.049, 2.57) were some of the factors significantly associated with demand for LAPMs.
Demand and unmet need for LAPMs were high in the study area. Therefore raising awareness of the community, counseling/discussion about the methods with all clients, encouraging spousal involvement are fundamental areas of intervention. Moreover, increasing the availability and accessibility of LAPMs is required to meet the unmet needs.
PMCID: PMC3975156  PMID: 24625360
6.  Cervical cancer knowledge and screening behaviors among female university graduates of year 2012 attending national graduate orientation program, Bhutan 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:44.
Cervical cancer is the leading female cancer in Bhutan. This study describes the level of cervical cancer knowledge and screening behaviors among female university graduates attending the National Graduate Orientation Program (NGOP), 2012.
A cross-sectional study of female graduates attending NGOP was conducted using self-administered anonymous questionnaire developed through literature reviews and expert discussions to elicit information on demographic characteristics, knowledge, screening behaviors and determinants of cervical cancer. The association of demographic and other important study characteristics with uptake of Pap test was investigated using cross tabulation and Fischer Exact test. Frequencies and percentages were calculated for all the questions.
The average age of the participants was 23.43 ± SD 2.73. About 92% (n = 513) of the respondents were aged 25 years or less and 7.9% (n = 44) of the respondents were aged 26 or more. The study revealed low cervical cancer knowledge and poor screening behavior among the graduates. The mean knowledge score was 3.571 (SD1.75, Range 0–8). About 6% (n=34) of the respondents reported undergoing Pap test at least once and 94% reported as never having done Pap test. The most commonly cited reasons for not doing Pap test included “never thought I needed one” (57%, n = 320), “embarrassment of being examined by male health professional” and “fear of finding out cancer”. The study revealed evidence of significant association between increasing age, those who are married, knowledge score and those recommended for screening by health professionals with the uptake of Pap test.
Our study revealed poor knowledge and screening behaviors among female university graduates in Bhutan. This may be suggestive of even poorer awareness and screening practices among young unmarried women who are less educated or with no education. Although our study group is not appropriate for measuring practice of cervical cancer screening in the country, the findings are expected to highlight the shortcomings and trigger development of comprehensive cervical cancer control programs in Bhutan.
PMCID: PMC3975232  PMID: 24618416
Bhutan cervical cancer knowledge; Screening behavior; Determinants; University graduates
7.  The impact of a weight reduction program with and without meal-replacement on health related quality of life in middle-aged obese females 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:45.
In addition to an increased risk for chronic illnesses, obese individuals suffer from social stigmatization and discrimination, and severely obese people may experience greater risk of impaired psychosocial and physical functioning. Lower health-related quality of life (HRQOL) has been reported among obese persons seeking intensive treatment for their disease. To aid in the treatment of obesity, meal replacements have been recommended as an effective therapeutic strategy for weight loss, particularly when consumed in the beginning of an intervention. Hence, the objective of this study was to assess the impact of two 12-month weight reduction interventions (one arm including a meal replacement) on changes in HRQOL among obese females.
This controlled trial compared two versions of a standardized 12-month weight reduction intervention: the weight-reduction lifestyle program without a meal replacement (LS) versus the same lifestyle program with the addition of a soy-based meal replacement product (LSMR). 380 women (LS: n = 190, LSMR: n = 190) were matched by age, gender, and weight (51.4 ± 7.0 yrs., 35.5 ± 3.03 kg/m2). This sample of women all completed the 12-month lifestyle intervention that was part of a larger study. The lifestyle intervention included instruction on exercise/sport, psychology, nutrition, and medicine in 18 theoretical and 40 practical units. Led by a sport physiologist, participants engaged in group-based exercise sessions once or twice a week. To evaluate HRQOL, all participants completed the SF-36 questionnaire pre- and post-intervention. Anthropometric, clinical, physical performance (ergometric stress tests), and self-reported leisure time physical activity (hours/day) data were collected.
The LSMR sample showed lower baseline HRQOL scores compared to the LS sample in six of eight HRQOL dimensions, most significant in vitality and health perception (p < 0.01). After the intervention, body weight was reduced in both lifestyle intervention groups (LS: -6.6±6.6 vs. LSMR -7.6±7.9 kg), however, weight loss and HRQOL improvements were more pronounced in the LSMR sample (LSMR: seven of eight, LS: four of eight dimensions).
Our results show that HRQOL may improve among middle-aged obese females during a standardized lifestyle weight reduction program and may be enhanced by consuming a soy-based meal replacement product.
Trial registration NCT00356785
PMCID: PMC3975286  PMID: 24618460
Soy-based meal-replacement; Health-related quality of life; Obesity treatment; Weight loss intervention; Lifestyle intervention
8.  Breast cancer-preventive behaviors: exploring Iranian women’s experiences 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:41.
Breast cancer-preventive behaviors are critical for community and women’s health. Although many studies have addressed women’s knowledge and attitudes toward breast cancer, little information is available about their experiences of breast cancer preventive behaviors. This study aimed to explore the experiences of Iranian women regarding preventive behaviors.
This was a qualitative study. A sample of Iranian women aged 30 years and over was selected purposefully. Data collected through focus group and semi-structured audiotaped interviews and were analyzed by conventional content analysis.
The following five main themes emerged from the analysis: attitude toward breast cancer and preventive behaviors, stress management, healthy lifestyle, perceived social support and individual/environmental barriers. The findings showed that women were highly motivated to preventive behaviors of breast cancer but faced considerable challenges.
The findings indicated that increased awareness, positive attitudes, stronger motivational factors, and fewer barriers toward preventive behaviors are most important parameters that might encourage women to practice breast cancer-preventive behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3973958  PMID: 24606758
Preventive behaviors; Breast cancer; Iranian women; Qualitative study
9.  Highly-cited estimates of the cumulative incidence and recurrence of vulvovaginal candidiasis are inadequately documented 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:43.
Available literature concerning the epidemiologic or clinical features of vulvovaginal candidiasis commonly reports that: 75% of women will experience an episode of vulvovaginal candidiasis in their lifetimes, 50% of whom will experience at least a second episode, and 5-10% of all women will experience recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (≥4 episodes/1 year). In this debate we traced the three commonly cited statistics to their presumed origins.
It is apparent that these figures were inadequately documented and lacked supporting epidemiologic evidence. Population-based studies are needed to make reliable estimates of the lifetime risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis and the proportion of women who experience recurrent candidiasis.
The extent to which vulvovaginal candidiasis is a source of population-level morbidity remains uncertain.
PMCID: PMC3975582  PMID: 24612727
10.  Dual method use for protection of pregnancy and disease prevention among HIV-infected women in South East Nigeria 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:39.
sub-Saharan Africa continue to bear the greatest burden of HIV/AIDS epidemic due to its large population, high fertility rate and unmet contraceptive need, most especially with poor uptake of dual methods (use of condom and another effective family planning method) which protects against STIs/HIV and unplanned pregnancy. The aim of this study was to assess the awareness, pattern and practice of dual methods by HIV infected women, and factors influencing its use in southeast Nigeria.
This was a cross sectional descriptive study of 658 HIV positive women attending the PMTCT/postnatal/family planning clinics in three health facilities in southeast Nigeria. An interviewer administered semi-structured questionnaire was used to abstract needed information. The data were analyzed with Epi-info™ version 7.0 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA), Odd ratio was determined and the test of statistical significance was with Fisher exact test at 95% CI.
The mean age of the participants was 29 ± 4.3 years. All the respondents were aware of their HIV status, 62.4% did not know their partners status; 23.1% were sero-concordant, while 14.5% were sero-discordant. Most (67.9%) of the respondents lack awareness on dual methods with only 179/658 (27.2%) practicing it. The commonest (141/179; 78.9%) dual method used was a combination of condom and injectable hormonal contraceptives. Lack of awareness (222/479; 46.3%) and non disclosure (133/479; 27.8%) were the main reasons for non use of dual method in the present study. STI’s was higher amongst non users with odd ratio of 1.74 (1.26-2.41), p-value < 0.0004. Unplanned pregnancy was higher in non users with odd ratio of 3.89 (2.52-6.00), p-value < 0.0000 at 95% CI.
The awareness and uptake of dual methods amongst HIV infected women in southeast Nigeria is still low and thus associated with a higher risk of STIs and unplanned pregnancy. It is expected that increased awareness, uptake and consistent use will help prevention new infections of HIV/STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3973850  PMID: 24602410
HIV; AIDS; Dual methods; Safer sex; Parturient; Barrier; Safer sex
11.  Differential effect of wealth quintile on modern contraceptive use and fertility: evidence from Malawian women 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:40.
High fertility and wide inequality in wealth distribution are phenomenal problems in sub-Saharan Africa. Modern Contraceptives (MC) are useful for limiting fertility, but are not always easily accessible in Malawi. This study examines the gap in MC use and fertility between women in the richest and poorest Wealth Quintile (WQ).
The study was cross-sectional in design and utilized Malawi DHS dataset, 2010. It focused on women of reproductive age. The dependent variables are ever and current use of MC. Chi-square and multinomial logistic regression were used for the analysis.
Mean children ever born by women in the poorest and richest WQs were 3.94 ± 2.7 and 2.82 ± 2.3 respectively (p < 0.001). The adjusted total fertility rate (Adj.TFR) was higher among women in the poorest (Adj.TFR = 7.60) WQ than the richest (Adj.TFR = 4.45). The prevalence of ever use of MC was higher among women in the richest WQ (82.4%) than the poorest (66.8%) (p < 0.001). Similar pattern exists for current use of MC; 58.5% and 45.9% for women in the richest and poorest WQs respectively (p < 0.001). Women in the richest WQ were more likely to ever use (OR = 2.36; C.I = 2.07-2.69, p < 0.001) and currently using (OR = 1.66; C.I = 1.40-1.97, p < 0.001) MC than their counterparts in the poorest WQ. Slight reduction in odd-ratio of MC use among women in richest WQ resulted when socio-demographic variables were used as control.
Fertility was higher and the use of MC was lower among women in the poorest than their counterparts in the richest WQ. Ensuring availability of MC at little or no cost may bridge the gap in contraceptive use between women in the poorest and richest WQ in Malawi.
PMCID: PMC3973841  PMID: 24602452
Modern contraceptive use; Richest and lowest wealth quintile; Total fertility rate
12.  The effect of physical activity and body mass index on menopausal symptoms in Turkish women: a cross-sectional study in primary care 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:38.
Considering the fact that, due to recent evidence, many women no longer prefer hormone replacement therapy, it is especially important to develop intervention options to alleviate menopausal symptoms. Although there is conflicting evidence concerning effectiveness, there is an indication that physical activity and weight control may be useful for alleviating symptoms. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of physical activity and body mass index on menopausal symptoms among menopausal women in Turkey.
305 women between the ages of 45 and 60 who visited the health center for various reasons were recruited into this cross-sectional study. Menopausal women, who visited one of five family physicians working in the same area, were included in the analyses. The Menopause Rating Scale, International Physical Activity Questionnaire and a generic medical and socio-demographic information questionnaire were used.
Women who were physically active had lower total menopausal (p < 0.001), somato-vegetative (p = 0.004), psychological (p = 0.002), and urogenital (p < 0.001) symptom scores than women who were less active. No differences in vasomotor symptoms were recorded related to physical activity level; significant differences were found for most menopausal symptoms, including sleep (p = 0.009) and sexual (p = 0.043) problems, joint and muscular discomfort (p < 0.001) and vaginal dryness (p = 0.016). BMI was not associated with total menopausal symptoms and with the subscales, excluding depressive mood (p = 0.009). A significant increasing trend in the rate of depressive mood was observed from normal through overweight to obese participants. The mean scores of the total menopausal symptoms were lower among the participants who were well educated, currently working and without chronic diseases.
Physical activity may play an important role in alleviating menopausal symptoms. As part of preventive medicine, primary care physicians should also stress lifestyle changes, including physical activity, to manage menopausal symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3973860  PMID: 24602392
Physical activity; Body mass index; Menopausal symptom
13.  Inter-correlation of knowledge, attitude, and osteoporosis preventive behaviors in women around the age of peak bone mass 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:35.
As silent and preventable in nature, postmenopausal osteoporosis awareness should be raised among young women prior to an irreversible period of declining bone mass. We therefore decided to assess the inter-correlation of knowledge, attitude and osteoporosis preventive behaviors in women around the age of peak bone mass.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in 430 women aged 20–35 years. The participants’ knowledge, attitude and behaviors concerning osteoporosis prevention were assessed along with demographic data using a four-part questionnaire. The items in this questionnaire were established by extensive literature review, including the Guideline for Management of Osteoporosis of the Thai Osteoporosis Foundation (TOPF) 2010. The content was validated by experts in osteoporosis and reliability was obtained with a Cronbach’s alpha score of 0.83.
The mean age of women in this study was 29.4 ± 4.6 years. Half of the participants (49.5%) had heard about osteoporosis, mostly from television (95.3%, n = 203/213) and the internet (72.8%, n = 155/213). Most women had certain knowledge (85.2%) and positive attitude towards osteoporosis (53.3%). Nevertheless, 80% of the studied population did not have appropriate osteoporosis behaviors. We found significant correlation between the level of attitudes and osteoporosis behaviors (adjusted odd ratio = 3.3 with 95% confidence interval of 1.9-5.7); attitude and educational level (adjusted odd ratio = 2.2 with 95% confidence interval of 1.4-3.4); and attitude and knowledge (adjusted odd ratio = 3.5 with 95% confidence interval of 1.8-6.8).
Despite having certain knowledge about osteoporosis, the young women did not seem to have appropriate osteoporosis preventive behaviors. Developing a right attitude towards osteoporosis may be a key determinant to improving health practices in order to prevent osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC3942254  PMID: 24588970
Knowledge; Attitude; Behavior; Osteoporosis
14.  Health related quality of life in patients in dialysis after renal graft loss and effect of gender 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:34.
An increasing number of dialysis patients have returned to dialysis after renal graft loss, and the transition in disease state could likely be associated with reduced health related quality of life (HRQOL). Furthermore, gender differences in HRQOL have been observed in dialysis and kidney transplanted patients, but whether transition in disease state affects HRQOL differently in respect to gender is not known. The aims of this study were to compare HRQOL in dialysis patients with graft loss to transplant naïve dialysis patients, and to explore possible gender differences.
In a cross-sectional study, HRQOL was measured in 301 prevalent dialysis patients using the Kidney Disease and Quality of Life Short Form version 1.3. Adjusted comparisons were made between dialysis patients with previous graft loss and the transplant naïve patients. Multiple linear regression analyses were performed with HRQOL as outcome variables. Interaction analyses using product terms were performed between gender and graft loss. HRQOL was analysed separately in both genders.
Patients with renal graft loss (n = 50) did not experience lower HRQOL than transplant naïve patients after multiple adjustments. Among patients with graft loss, women (n = 23) reported lower HRQOL than men (n = 27) in the items physical function (40 vs. 80, p = 0.006), and effect of kidney disease (49 vs. 67, p = 0.017). Women with graft loss reported impaired kidney-specific HRQOL compared to transplant naïve women (n = 79) in the items effect of kidney disease (50 vs. 72, p = 0.002) and cognitive function (80 vs. 93, p = 0.006), and this observation persisted after multiple adjustments. Such differences were not apparent in the male counterparts.
Patients who resumed dialysis after renal graft loss did not have lower HRQOL than dialysis patients not previously transplanted. However, losing graft function was associated with reduced HRQOL in females, and important interactions were identified between graft loss and gender. This needs to be further explored in prospective studies.
PMCID: PMC3946240  PMID: 24580724
Dialysis; Kidney transplant failure; HRQOL; Gender
15.  Psychosocial factors and attendance at a population-based mammography screening program in a cohort of Swedish women 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:33.
A better understanding of the factors that influence mammography screening attendance is needed to improve the effectiveness of these screening programs. The objective of the study was to examine whether psychosocial factors predicted attendance at a population-based invitational mammography screening program.
Data on cohabitation, social network/support, sense of control, and stress were obtained from the Malmö Diet and Cancer Cohort Study and linked to the Malmö mammography register in Sweden. We analyzed 11,409 women (age 44 to 72) who were free of breast cancer at study entry (1992 to 1996). Mammography attendance was followed from cohort entry to December 31, 2009. Generalized Estimating Equations were used to account for repeated measures within subjects. Adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) are reported.
Among 69,746 screening opportunities there were 5,552 (8%) cases of non-attendance. Higher odds of non-attendance were found among women who lived alone (OR = 1.47 (1.33-1.63)) or with children only (OR = 1.52 (1.29-1.81)), had one childbirth (OR = 1.12 (1.01-1.24)) or three or more childbirths (OR = 1.34 (1.21-1.48)), had low social participation (OR= 1.21 (1.10-1.31)), low sense of control (OR = 1.12 (1.02-1.23)), and experienced greater stress (OR = 1.24 (1.13-1.36)).
Public health campaigns designed to optimize mammography screening attendance may benefit from giving more consideration of how to engage with women who are less socially involved.
PMCID: PMC3942217  PMID: 24565263
Mammography; Breast cancer screening; Psychosocial factors; Social support; Sense of control; Stress
16.  Women’s experiences following severe perineal trauma: a qualitative study 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:32.
Literature reports that the psychological impact for women following severe perineal trauma is extensive and complex, however there is a paucity of research reporting on women’s experience and perspective of how they are cared for during this time. The aim of this study was to explore how women experience and make meaning of living with severe perineal trauma.
A qualitative interpretive approach using a feminist perspective guided data collection and analysis. Data were collected through semi-structured face to face interviews with twelve women in Sydney, Australia, who had experienced severe perineal trauma during vaginal birth. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.
Three main themes were identified: The Abandoned Mother describes how women feel vulnerable, exposed and disempowered throughout the labour and birth, suturing, and postpartum period and how these feelings are a direct result of the actions of their health care providers. The Fractured Fairytale explores the disconnect between the expectations and reality of the birth experience and immediate postpartum period for women, and how this reality impacts upon their ability to mother their newborn child and the sexual relationship they have with their partner. A Completely Different Normal discusses the emotional pathway women travel as they work to rediscover and redefine a new sense of self following severe perineal trauma.
How women are cared for during their labour, birth and postnatal period has a direct impact on how they process, understand and rediscover a new sense of self following severe perineal trauma. Women who experience severe perineal trauma and associated postnatal morbidities undergo a transition as their maternal body boundaries shift, and the trauma to their perineum results in an extended physical opening whereby the internal becomes external, and that creates a continual shift between self and other.
PMCID: PMC3933507  PMID: 24559056
17.  Assessment of reproductive health and violence against women among displaced Syrians in Lebanon 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:25.
The current conflict in Syria continues to displace thousands to neighboring countries, including Lebanon. Information is needed to provide adequate health and related services particularly to women in this displaced population.
We conducted a needs assessment in Lebanon (June-August 2012), administering a cross-sectional survey in six health clinics. Information was collected on reproductive and general health status, conflict violence, stress, and help-seeking behaviors of displaced Syrian women. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to examine associations between exposure to conflict violence, stress, and reproductive health outcomes.
We interviewed 452 Syrian refugee women ages 18–45 who had been in Lebanon for an average of 5.1 (± 3.7) months. Reported gynecologic conditions were common, including: menstrual irregularity, 53.5%; severe pelvic pain, 51.6%; and reproductive tract infections, 53.3%. Among the pregnancy subset (n = 74), 39.5% of currently pregnant women experienced complications and 36.8% of those who completed pregnancies experienced delivery/abortion complications. Adverse birth outcomes included: low birthweight, 10.5%; preterm delivery, 26.5%; and infant mortality, 2.9%. Of women who experienced conflict-related violence (30.8%) and non-partner sexual violence (3.1%), the majority did not seek medical care (64.6%). Conflict violence and stress score was significantly associated with reported gynecologic conditions, and stress score was found to mediate the relationship between exposure to conflict violence and self-rated health.
This study contributes to the understanding of experience of conflict violence among women, stress, and reproductive health needs. Findings demonstrate the need for better targeting of reproductive health services in refugee settings, as well as referral to psychosocial services for survivors of violence.
PMCID: PMC3929551  PMID: 24552142
Violence against women; Stress; Refugee; Reproductive health; Syria
18.  Clinical characteristics and quality of life in women with COPD: an observational study 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:31.
The impact of COPD on patient’s quality of life is well established, but gender differences have received little attention.
To describe factors associated with the health-related quality of life by gender: A cross-sectional observational study (NCT01007734) was conducted in COPD patients followed by pulmonologists. The first patient included had to be a woman. Data concerning the patient, COPD and their management were collected by the physician. The patient had to fill in several questionnaires: Saint-George Hospital respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ-C), and motivation to quit smoking.
Four hundred and thirty patients were included: mean age 63.9 ± 11.3 years; 57.4% were women. Women were significantly younger than men (61.9 vs. 66.6) and their tobacco use was lower (37.1 vs. 40.4 PY). Cardiovascular comorbidities were more frequent in men while osteoporosis, anxiety and depression were frequent in women. The frequency of cough, sputum and the severity of dyspnea did not differ significantly between genders. Lung function impairment was less severe in women than in men (mean FEV1 52% predicted normal vs. 47. 8%). Anxiety score was higher (score 9.8 vs. 7.1) and quality of life (SGRQ-C) more impaired in women (scores 50.6 vs. 45.4; p < 0.02) than in men. Moreover, in multivariate analysis, chronic sputum was associated with higher SGRQ-C scores in women but not in men.
This study underlines that despite less airflow limitation, quality of life is more impacted by chronic sputum in women than in men.
PMCID: PMC3936943  PMID: 24555562
COPD; Gender; Quality of life; Comorbidities; Chronic sputum
19.  Knowledge, attitude and practice about cancer of the uterine cervix among women living in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:30.
Cervical cancer is the most frequent cancer of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Nevertheless, the level of women’s awareness about cervical cancer is unknown. Knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) are important elements for designing and monitoring screening programs. The study purpose was to estimate KAP on cervical cancer and to identify associated factors.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in Kinshasa, DRC, including 524 women aged 16–78 years (median age 28; interquartile range 22–35). The women were interviewed at home by trained field workers using a standardized questionnaire. The women’s score on knowledge, attitude and practice were dichotomized as sufficient or insufficient. We used binary and multiple logistic regression to assess associations between obtaining sufficient scores and a series of socio-demographic factors: age, residence, marital status, education, occupation, religion, and parity.
The women’s score on knowledge was not significantly correlated with their score on practice (Spearman’s rho = 0.08; P > 0.05). Obtaining a sufficient score on knowledge was positively associated with higher education (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 7.65; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 3.31-17.66) and formal employment (adjusted OR 3.35; 95% CI 1.85-6.09); it was negatively associated with being single (adjusted OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.24-0.81) and living in the eastern, western and northern zone of Kinshasa compared to the city centre. The attitude score was associated with place of residence (adjusted OR for east Kinshasa: 0.49; 95% CI 0.27-0.86 and for south Kinshasa: 0.48; 95% CI 0.27-0.85) and with religion (adjusted OR 0.55; 95% CI 0.35-0.86 for women with a religion other than Catholicism or Protestantism compared to Catholics). Regarding practice, there were negative associations between a sufficient score on practice and being single (adjusted OR 0.24; 95% CI 0.13-0.41) and living in the eastern zone of the city (adjusted OR 0.39; 95% CI 0.22-0.70). Although 84% of women had heard about cervical cancer, only 9% had ever had a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear test.
This study shows a low level of knowledge, attitude and practice on cervical cancer among women in Kinshasa. Increasing women’s awareness would be a first step in the long chain of conditions to attain a lower incidence and mortality.
PMCID: PMC3937079  PMID: 24548698
20.  Estimates of delays in diagnosis of cervical cancer in Nepal 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:29.
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths among women in Nepal. The long symptom to diagnosis interval means that women have advanced disease at presentation. The aim of this study was to identify, estimate and describe the extent of different delays in diagnosis of cervical cancer in Nepal.
A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in two tertiary cancer hospitals of Nepal. Face to face interview and medical records review were carried out among 110 cervical cancer patients. Total diagnostic delay was categorized into component delays: patient delay, health care providers delay, referral delay and diagnostic waiting time.
Total 110 patients recruited in the study represented 40 districts from all three ecological regions of the country. Median total diagnostic delay was 157 days with more than three fourth (77.3%) of the patients having longer total diagnostic delay of >90 days. Out of the total diagnostic delay, median patient delay, median health care provider delay, median referral delay and median diagnostic waiting time were 68.5 days, 40 days, 5 days and 9 days respectively. Majority of the patients had experienced longer delay of each type except referral delay. Fifty seven percent of the patients had experienced longer patient delay of >60 days, 90% had suffered longer health care provider delay of >1 week, 31.8% had longer referral delay of >1 week and 66.2% had waited >1 week at diagnostic center for final diagnosis. Variation in each type of delay was observed among women with different attributes and in context of health care service delivery.
Longer delays were observed in all the diagnostic pathways except for referral delay and diagnostic waiting time. Among the delays, patient delay is of crucial importance because of its longer span, although health care provider delay is equally important. In the context of limited screening services in Nepal, the efforts should be to reduce the diagnostic delay especially patient and health care provider delay for early detection and reduction of mortality rate of cervical cancer.
PMCID: PMC3932513  PMID: 24533670
Alarming symptoms; Cervical cancer; Delays; Health care provider; Nepal
21.  Brazilian adolescents’ knowledge and beliefs about abortion methods: a school-based internet inquiry 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:27.
Internet surveys that draw from traditionally generated samples provide the unique conditions to engage adolescents in exploration of sensitive health topics.
We examined awareness of unwanted pregnancy, abortion behaviour, methods, and attitudes toward specific legal indications for abortion via a school-based internet survey among 378 adolescents aged 12–21 years in three Rio de Janeiro public schools.
Forty-five percent knew peers who had undergone an abortion. Most students (66.0%) did not disclose abortion method knowledge. However, girls (aOR 4.2, 95% CI 2.4-7.2), those who had experienced their sexual debut (aOR1.76, 95% CI 1.1-3.0), and those attending a prestigious magnet school (aOR 2.7 95% CI 1.4-6.3) were more likely to report methods. Most abortion methods (79.3%) reported were ineffective, obsolete, and/or unsafe. Herbs (e.g. marijuana tea), over-the-counter medications, surgical procedures, foreign objects and blunt trauma were reported. Most techniques (85.2%) were perceived to be dangerous, including methods recommended by the World Health Organization. A majority (61.4%) supported Brazil’s existing law permitting abortion in the case of rape. There was no association between gender, age, sexual debut, parental education or socioeconomic status and attitudes toward legal abortion. However, students at the magnet school supported twice as many legal indications (2.7, SE.27) suggesting a likely role of peers and/or educators in shaping abortion views.
Abortion knowledge and attitudes are not driven simply by age, religion or class, but rather a complex interplay that includes both social spaces and gender. Prevention of abortion morbidity and mortality among adolescents requires comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health education that includes factual distinctions between safe and unsafe abortion methods.
PMCID: PMC3924906  PMID: 24521075
Abortion; Adolescents; Brazil; Internet; Emergency contraception; Reproductive health; Pregnancy; Misoprostol
22.  Women’s values in contraceptive choice: a systematic review of relevant attributes included in decision aids 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:28.
Women can choose from a range of contraceptive methods that differ in important ways. Inadequate decision support may lead them to select a method that poorly fits their circumstances, leading to dissatisfaction, misuse, or nonuse. Decision support interventions, such as decision aids, may help women choose a method of contraception that best fits their personal circumstances. To guide future decision aid development, we aim to summarize the attributes of contraceptive methods included in available decision aids as well as surveys and interviews of women actively choosing a contraceptive method.
We conducted a systematic review to identify attributes of contraceptive methods that may be important to women when engaging in this decision making process. We performed a database search of MEDLINE/PubMed, Ovid EMBASE, OVID CENTRAL, Ovid PsycInfo, EBSCO CINAHL, Popline, and Scopus from 1985 until 2013 to identify decision aids, structured interviews and questionnaires reporting attributes of contraceptive options that are of importance to women. A free-text internet search was also performed to identify additional decision support tools. All articles and tools were reviewed in duplicate for inclusion, and a summary list of attributes was compiled.
We included 20 surveys, 1 semistructured interview report and 19 decision aids, reporting 32 unique attributes. While some attributes were consistently included in surveys/interviews and decision aids, several were included more often in decision aids as opposed to surveys/interviews (e.g., STI prevention, noncontraceptive benefits, how the method is used, requirement of a healthcare provider), and vice versa (e.g., a woman’s vicarious experience with contraceptive methods). Key attributes mentioned in both surveys/interviews and decision aids include efficacy (29 total mentioned) and side effects/health risks (28 total mentioned). While a limited number of decision support tools were formally evaluated, many were not rigorously studied.
Many attributes were identified as potentially important to women choosing a method of contraception, but these were inconsistently included in the reviewed resources. Formal evaluation of decision support tools for contraceptive choice and involvement of users in the development process may lead to more user-centered design and implementation.
PMCID: PMC3932035  PMID: 24524562
Shared decision making; Decision aid; Decision support tool; Contraception; Birth control
23.  Violence against women and unintended pregnancies in Nicaragua: a population-based multilevel study 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:26.
Despite an increased use of contraceptive methods by women, unintended pregnancies represent one of the most evident violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights around the world. This study aims to measure the association between individual and community exposure to different forms of violence against women (physical/sexual violence by the partner, sexual abuse by any person, or controlling behavior by the partner) and unintended pregnancies.
Data from the 2006/2007 Nicaraguan Demographic and Health Survey were used. For the current study, 5347 women who reported a live birth in the five years prior to the survey and who were married or cohabitating at the time of the data collection were selected. Women’s exposure to controlling behaviors by their partners was measured using six questions from the WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women.
Area-level variables were constructed by aggregating the individual level exposures to violence into an exposure measurement of the municipality as a whole (n = 142); which is the basic political division in Nicaragua. Multilevel logistic regression was used to analyze the data.
In total, 37.1% of the pregnancies were reported as unintended. After adjusting for all variables included in the model, individual exposure to controlling behavior by a partner (AOR = 1.28, 95% CrI = 1.13–1.44), ever exposure to sexual abuse (AOR = 1.31, 95% CrI = 1.03–1.62), and ever exposure to physical/sexual intimate partner violence (AOR = 1.44, 95% CrI = 1.24–1.66) were significantly associated with unintended pregnancies. Women who lived in municipalities in the highest tertile of controlling behavior by a partner had 1.25 times higher odds of reporting an unintended pregnancy than women living in municipalities in the lowest tertile (AOR = 1.25, 95% CrI = 1.03–1.48).
Nicaraguan women often experience unintended pregnancies, and the occurrence of unintended pregnancies is significantly associated with exposure to different forms of violence against women at both the individual and the municipality level. National policies aiming to facilitate women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights must include actions aimed at reducing women’s exposures to violence against women.
PMCID: PMC3925120  PMID: 24521005
Epidemiology; Intimate partner violence; Nicaragua; Multilevel; Unintended pregnancies
24.  Participation in breast cancer screening among women of Turkish origin in Germany – a register-based study 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:24.
Population-based breast cancer screening programs were implemented to reduce breast cancer mortality and to improve recovery chances. Breast cancer screening participation among migrant women differs from that of autochthonous populations in several European countries. Here we investigate for the first time participation among women of Turkish origin in Germany.
Data of five screening units covering 2010 and 2011 as well as associated population registries were analysed. Women of Turkish origin were identified using a name-based algorithm. Participation ratios among women of Turkish origin and odds ratios compared to women of non-Turkish origin were calculated. Analyses were stratified and adjusted for age-groups and screening unit.
A total of 208,500 participants in the five breast screening units were included, out of 423,649 eligible women in the catchment areas (participation 49.2%). Women of Turkish origin have a slightly higher chance to participate in breast cancer screening than women without Turkish origin (OR 1.17; 95% CI: 1.14-1.21). Only women of Turkish origin aged 65–69 years have a lower chance to participate than women without Turkish origin (OR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.66-0.75).
In spite of low participation in preventive measures among migrant populations, the overall breast cancer screening participation among women of Turkish origin in Germany seems to be higher compared to women of non-Turkish origin. Turkish women aged 65 years and above have a lower chance of participation than younger Turkish women. There is need for further research to study factors affecting participation in screening among migrant and non-migrant populations in Germany.
PMCID: PMC3922307  PMID: 24507093
Breast cancer screening; Mammography; Participation; Use; Uptake; Attendance; Immigrants; Turks; Germany; Name-based identification
25.  Primary amenorrhea in adolescent girls: normal coitus or not? Always take a look in the physician's office 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:23.
Primary care physicians are frequently faced with the challenge of evaluating primary amenorrhea in adolescent girls. Approximately 15% of these women have abnormal genital examination, with Müllerian agenesis being the second most frequent cause. We report two cases of adolescents with Müllerian agenesis that presented to a tertiary adolescent medicine center with primary amenorrhea and the very rare sexual phenomenon of urethral coitus. The aim of this report is to emphasize the importance of performing a genital examination in girls who present with amenorrhea in the primary care setting, even if ‘normal’ vaginal sexual activity is assumed.
Case presentations
A 19-year-old Caucasian and a 16-year-old Filipino girl presented to a tertiary adolescent medicine center with primary amenorrhea and a history of ‘normal’ vaginal coitus. Investigation revealed Müllerian agenesis in association with urethral coitus in both cases; neither patient suffered significant urethral damage to require urethra reconstruction. However, the first adolescent had recurrent pyelonephritis and renal scarring and the second had dysuria.
To the best of our knowledge, Case 1 also represents the second reported case of pituitary prolactinoma in association with Müllerian agenesis. The first adolescent underwent a hernia repair and vaginoplasty, whereas the second had vaginal dilatations.
Our cases highlight the need for careful assessment of the external genitalia and vagina patency in all girls with amenorrhea, even if they report ‘normal’ vaginal sexual activity. Early identification of anatomic disorders such as Müllerian agenesis, will allow provision of proper care according to the patient’s needs and the existing abnormalities, and prevention of rare, unintentional but potentially physically and emotionally harmful, patterns of sexual intercourse.
PMCID: PMC3928913  PMID: 24507015
Amenorrhea; Adolescent health; Adolescent gynecology; Preventive health care visits; Urethral coitus; Müllerian agenesis; Inguinal hernia; Prolactinoma

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