Role of menstruation in contraceptive choice among HIV-infected women in Soweto, South Africa

Fatima Laher, Catherine S. Todd, Mark A. Stibich, Rebecca Phofa, Xoliswa Behane, Lerato Mohapi, Neil Martinson, Glenda Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Contraceptive preferences of HIV-infected women must be considered in efforts to integrate HIV and reproductive health services. In South Africa, contraception is often discontinued due to bleeding pattern changes. It is unknown whether HIV-infected women are more sensitive to menstrual changes and how this affects contraceptive choice. This study describes perceptions toward menses and contraceptive-induced amenorrhea among HIV-infected women. Study Design: A convenience sample of 42 HIV-infected women aged 15 to 45 years was purposively recruited for three focus groups and 15 in-depth qualitative interviews which were conducted at the Perinatal HIV Research Unit, South Africa. Transcripts were coded and emergent themes grouped. Results: One third of women reported HIV-related menstrual changes, unchanged by antiretroviral use. Menstruation was believed to purge the body of "dirty blood." Women perceived that menstruation had a negative effect on male partner sexual desire, with concern about higher HIV transmission during menstruation. Ninety-six percent of injectable contraceptive users experienced amenorrhea, regarded as troublesome and a reason for discontinuation. Conclusion: In Soweto, HIV diagnosis may accentuate linking menstruation with health, leading to avoidance or discontinuation of methods causing amenorrhea. Providers should intensify education on the safety of contraceptive-induced oligo/amenorrhea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-551
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Contraception
  • HIV
  • menstruation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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