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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Female reproductive tract infections: understandings and care seeking behaviour among women of reproductive age in Lagos, Nigeria

Kabiru A Rabiu*, Adeniyi A Adewunmi, Fatimat M Akinlusi and Oluwarotimi I Akinola

Author Affiliations

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria

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BMC Women's Health 2010, 10:8  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-10-8

Published: 23 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Reproductive tract infections (RTI's) are endemic in developing countries and entail a heavy toll on women. If untreated, RTI's can lead to adverse health outcomes such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy and increased vulnerability to transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus. It is also associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. While RTI's and its sequelae abound in Nigeria, there is paucity of publications on the subject in the country. This study assessed the understandings and care seeking behavior with regards to RTI's among women of reproductive age in Lagos, Nigeria with the aim of improving awareness on the subject.

Methods

A descriptive cross sectional survey of women attending the gynaecological outpatient and family planning clinics of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital was carried out between 1st June 2008 and 31st August 2008 using a pre-tested questionnaire. Data was analysed using the Epi-Info 3.5 statistical software of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta U.S.A.

Results

Most of the respondents (77.2%) had heard of RTI's. Toilet was the most perceived mode of contracting RTI's (44.6%), followed by sexual intercourse and poor hygiene. Vaginal discharge was the commonest symptom of RTI's named while inability to get pregnant was the commonest named complication. Majority of the respondent's demonstrated poor overall knowledge of symptoms and complications of RTI"s. 37.4% of the respondents had experienced symptoms of RTI's in the preceding six months. Vaginal discharge was the commonest symptom reported (21.8%) and the majority of those who reported symptoms sought medical treatment. Government health centres were the most visited health facilities for treatment.

Conclusion

Even though most of the respondents have heard of RTI's and sought treatment when symptomatic, they demonstrated poor overall understanding of the subject. There is need to educate women on preventive strategies, as RTI's are often assymptomatic.