Girls with disabilities and their caregivers are challenged during pubertal transitions, particularly with menses onset. More than 50% of caregivers report concern and anxiety related to menarche, and they have sought health care providers to discuss options. Menstrual suppression planning and education from nurse practitioners (NP) is key to ensure quality of life for these girls and their caregivers.
The purpose of this systematic review is to examine and evaluate the state of the science surrounding the use of medical modalities for menstrual suppression in adolescent girls with disabilities.
Articles were identified through systematic electronic search of the following databases: CINAHL, Medline, Health Sources: Nursing/Academic Edition, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, PsycINFO, Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials, and Academic Search Complete.
Results indicate that the most common medical modality used for menstrual suppression in girls with disabilities is the combined oral contraceptive pill, but depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system have been recommended. Concerns related to menstrual suppression include expressed wishes of the girl and her caregivers, existing comorbid conditions, and risks associated with medical modalities used for suppression.
Implications for practice:
Meaningful conversations about concerns and expectations related to pubertal transitions are essential to ensure smooth transitions. NPs should provide counseling and discuss the variety of interventions available for menstrual suppression, being mindful of the need for comprehensive gynecological care. Additional studies using robust methods, including longitudinal and prospective strategies, are needed to better inform NPs of the goals and desirable outcomes for these girls and their caregivers.