Menstrual regulation (MR) has been part of the Bangladesh family planning program since 1979. However, clandestine abortion remains a serious health problem in Bangladesh, and anecdotal reports indicate that clandestine use of misoprostol has increased since the most recent estimates (for 2010). Because of this, it is important to assess changes in the use of MR services and the incidence of clandestine abortion since 2010.
A survey of a nationally representative sample of 829 health facilities that provide MR or postabortion care services and a survey of 322 professionals knowledgeable about these services were conducted in 2014. Direct and indirect methods were applied to calculate the incidence of MR and induced abortion.
In 2014, an estimated 1,194,000 induced abortions were performed in Bangladesh (29 per 1,000 women aged 15–49), and 257,000 women were treated for complications of such abortions (a rate of 6 per 1,000 women aged 15–49). Among women with complications, the proportion presenting with hemorrhage increased significantly, from 27% to 48%. An estimated 430,000 MR procedures (using MVA or medication) were performed in health facilities nationwide, a decline of about 40% in the MR rate—from 17 to 10 per 1,000 women aged 15–49—from 2010 to 2014.
Given declines in MR provision, more attention needs to be paid to building capacity, including hiring and training more providers of MR. Harm-reduction approaches should be pursued to increase the safety of clandestine use of misoprostol in Bangladesh.
Susheela Singh is vice president for international research, Isaac Maddow-Zimet is research associate, Meghan Ingerick is research assistant II and the late Michael Vlassoff was senior research scientist—all at the Guttmacher Institute, New York. Altaf Hossain is director and Hadayeat Ullah Bhuiyan is deputy director of training and research, Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion, Bangladesh (BAPSA), Dhaka.