World Health & Population

World Health & Population November 2004 .doi:10.12927/whp.2004.17644

Gynecological Morbidity and Treatment Seeking Behavior in South India: Evidence from the Reproductive and Child Health Survey 1998-1999

Ramesh Chellan

Abstract

In the recent years, the issue of gynecological problems of poor women in the developing countries has been receiving increasing attention. Gynecological morbidity refers to reproductive morbidity other than related to pregnancy, abortion, childbearing, and contraception. High levels of gynecological morbidity, especially reproductive tract infections and sexually transmitted infections (RTIs/STIs) may turn out to be fatal if not treated properly. The present paper tries to examine the influences of socio-economic and demographic factors on gynecological morbidity and treatment seeking behavior in Tamil Nadu. The data for this study have been drawn from the Reproductive and Child Health Survey that covered 18040 currently married women in the reproductive age group of 15-44 years in Tamil Nadu. The logistic regression technique has been used to estimate the net effects of various socio-economic and demographic variables on the likelihood of gynecological morbidity. The paper also examines the influences of various factors on treatment seeking behavior for gynecological morbidity, that is, whether treatment is sought and if so, the source of treatment, public or private sector. For this purpose, the multinomial logistic regression technique has been used, with no treatment, treatment from public medical sector, and treatment from private medical sector as the multinomial response. The study found that 36.3 percent of women of childbearing ages had experienced any one symptom of RTI/STI and among them 31.5 percent had taken treatment. The results reveal that women in low level of education, pregnancy wastage, and contraceptive users are significantly more likely to report symptoms of RTI/STI. Further, the tendency to seek treatment from the public health sector is greater among those women belonging to the SC/ST, having experienced pregnancy wastage, and contraceptive users. Literate women are significantly more likely to seek treatment from the private medical sector. Some other factors show mild effects.

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