Women's awareness, perceptions and attitudes of menopause and their dietary intakes in managing menopausal symptoms: a case of Maragua town, Kenya
Wairegi, Susan Wambui
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Menopause manifests itself through hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats and loss of libido among other symptoms. Recent researches have established that with the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy, there is an increased risk for hormone related cancers. Diet is now seen as one of the primary and safest methods of managing menopausal problems. The significant problem was women's lack of factual information about menopause and the role nutrition can play in managing menopause symptoms. The purpose was to establish women's awareness perceptions and attitudes to menopause and their dietary intakes in managing menopausal symptoms. A cross-sectional descriptive survey approach was used where a multi-stage sampling technique was employed to purposively sample 121 menopausal women of between 40 and 59 years, living and working in Maragua Town, Kenya. Instruments used to facilitate data collection were interview schedules, Likert scales and focus groups. Quantitative data were analyzed using the Scientific Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Pearson Product Movement Correlation (R) technique was used to establish the relationships between nutritional knowledge for menopause with hot fluish and between consumption of kilocalories and selected nutrients with presence of symptoms associated with menopause. Spearman Rho correlations technique was used to establishe the relationships between levels of nutrition knowledge for menopause with frequency of foods rich in isoflavones in the diets. Regression analysis was used to establish the probability of a symptom associated with menopause being explained by the change in the total intakes of kilocalories and the selected nutrients and nutritional substances. Qualitative data were transcribed, grouped into categories, themes developed and presented in textual form. It was found that menopause was a culturally welcomed and accepted phenomenon. Menopausal symptoms were prevalent but not well-understood. Though women's diets were of plant origin, they were inadequate in isoflavones, kilocalories, dietary fiber, vitamin A, magnesium and calcium in reference to the World Health Organisation's Recommended Dietary Allowances. This led to the observation that less intake of kilocalories, isoflavones and selected nutrients were accompanied by presence of symptoms associated with menopause. There was no significant relationship between nutritional knowledge for menopause and consumption of foods rich in isoflavones, kilocalories and selected nutrients nutrients. It was concluded that culture greatly influenced women's perceptiond and attitudes of menopause. Types and quantities of nutrients consumed by women at menopause had significant infuence on presence of menopausal symptoms. Therefore, there should be increased counseling and sensitization for both women and men and up-to-date information about menopause made readily available to women. Nutritional education programme on menopause should be undertaken to bring about change in dietary intakes. The Ministry of Education should be sensitized to incorporate nutrition knowledge for menopause into school's curriculum and in adult education programmes. The findings will benefit the policy makers, nutritionists, educationists, menopausal women and the whole population in general.