Self-medication with antibiotics for the treatment of menstrual symptoms in southwest Nigeria: a cross-sectional studyReport as inadecuate

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BMC Public Health

, 10:610

First Online: 15 October 2010Received: 29 March 2010Accepted: 15 October 2010DOI: 10.1186-1471-2458-10-610

Cite this article as: Sapkota, A.R., Coker, M.E., Rosenberg Goldstein, R.E. et al. BMC Public Health 2010 10: 610. doi:10.1186-1471-2458-10-610


BackgroundSelf-medication with antibiotics is an important factor contributing to the development of bacterial antibiotic resistance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of self-medication with antibiotics for the treatment of menstrual symptoms among university women in Southwest Nigeria.

MethodsA cross-sectional survey was administered to female undergraduate and graduate students n = 706 at four universities in Southwest Nigeria in 2008. The universities were selected by convenience and the study samples within each university were randomly selected cluster samples. The survey was self-administered and included questions pertaining to menstrual symptoms, analgesic and antibiotic use patterns, and demographics. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression.

ResultsThe response rate was 95.4%. Eighty-six percent 95% CI: 83-88% of participants experienced menstrual symptoms, and 39% 95% CI: 36-43% reported using analgesics to treat them. Overall, 24% 95% CI: 21-27% of participants reported self-medicated use of antibiotics to treat the following menstrual symptoms: cramps, bloating, heavy bleeding, headaches, pimples-acne, moodiness, tender breasts, backache, joint and muscle pain. Factors associated with this usage were: lower levels of education Odds Ratio OR: 2.8, 95% CI: 1.1-7.1, p-value: 0.03; non-science major OR: 1.58, 95% CI: 1.03-2.50, p-value: 0.04; usage of analgesics OR: 3.17, 95% CI: 2.07-4.86, p-value: <0.001; and mild to extreme heavy bleeding OR: 1.64, 95% CI: 1.01-2.67, p-value: 0.05 and pimples-acne OR: 1.57, 95% CI: 0.98-2.54, p-value: 0.06. Ampicillin, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin and metronidazole were used to treat the most symptoms. Doctors or nurses 6%, 95% CI: 4-7%, friends 6%, 95% CI: 4-7% and family members 7%, 95% CI: 5-8% were most likely to recommend the use of antibiotics for menstrual symptoms, while these drugs were most often obtained from local chemists or pharmacists 10.2%, 95% CI: 8-12%.

ConclusionsThis is the first formal study to report that approximately 1 out of 4 university women surveyed in Southwest Nigeria self-medicate with antibiotics to treat menstrual symptoms. This practice could provide monthly, low-dose exposures to antibiotics among users. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the impacts of self-medication on student health.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2458-10-610 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Amy R Sapkota - Morenike E Coker - Rachel E Rosenberg Goldstein - Nancy L Atkinson - Shauna J Sweet - Priscilla O Sope


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