Tag Archives: Vaginal practices*

Vaginal practices: eroticism and implications for women’s health and condom use in Mozambique.

Cult Health Sex. 2008 Aug;10(6):573-85. doi: 10.1080/13691050801999071.LME

Vaginal practices: eroticism and implications for women’s health and condom use in Mozambique.

Bagnol B, Mariano E.

Department of Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. bagnolbrigitte@icon.co.za

ABSTRACT

This paper analyses two female sexual practices in Tete Province, Mozambique: (1) the practice of elongating the labia minora and (2) what is sometimes called ‘dry sex’ involving the insertion of natural and/or synthetic products into the vagina or the ingestion of these products orally. These practices are fundamental to the construction of female identity, eroticism and the experience of pleasure. Notions such as ‘closed/open’, ‘dry/damp’, ‘hot/cold’, ‘heavy/light’, ‘life/death’, ‘wealth/poverty’ and ‘sweet/not sweet’ are central to local understandings of sexual practices and reproduction. These notions may affect the women’s sexual health because they influence preferences for sex without a condom. These practices may also be associated with the alteration of the vaginal flora and vaginal lesions that may make women more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections.

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Vaginal practices as women’s agency in sub-Saharan Africa: a synthesis of meaning and motivation through meta-ethnography.

Soc Sci Med. 2012 May;74(9):1311-23. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.11.032. Epub 2012 Jan 28. LME

Vaginal practices as women’s agency in sub-Saharan Africa: a synthesis of meaning and motivation through meta-ethnography.

Martin Hilber A, Kenter E, Redmond S, Merten S, Bagnol B, Low N, Garside R.

University of Bern, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Finkenhubelweg 11, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland; Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland. amartinhilber@ispm.unibe.ch

ABSTRACT

This paper reports on a systematic review of qualitative research about vaginal practices in sub-Saharan Africa, which used meta-ethnographic methods to understand their origins, their meanings for the women who use them, and how they have evolved in time and place. We included published documents which were based on qualitative methods of data collection and analysis and contained information on vaginal practices. After screening, 16 texts were included which dated from 1951 to 2008. We found that practices evolve and adapt to present circumstances and that they remain an important source of power for women to negotiate challenges that they face. Recent evidence suggests that some practices may increase a woman’s susceptibility to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The success of new female-controlled prevention technologies, such as microbicides, might be determined by whether they can and will be used by women in the course of their daily life.

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Intravaginal practices, bacterial vaginosis, and women’s susceptibility to HIV infection: epidemiological evidence and biological mechanisms.

Lancet Infect Dis. 2005 Dec;5(12):786-94.

Intravaginal practices, bacterial vaginosis, and women’s susceptibility to HIV infection: epidemiological evidence and biological mechanisms.

Myer L, Kuhn L, Stein ZA, Wright TC Jr, Denny L

Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. lmyer@cormack.uct.ac.za

ABSTRACT

Intravaginal practices such as “dry sex” and douching have been suggested as a risk factor that may increase women’s susceptibility to HIV infection. These behaviours appear common in different populations across sub-Saharan Africa, where practices include the use of antiseptic preparations, traditional medicines, or the insertion of fingers or cloths into the vagina. We systematically review the evidence for the association between women’s intravaginal practices and HIV infection. Although a number of cross-sectional studies have shown that prevalent HIV infection is more common among women reporting intravaginal practices, the temporal nature of this association is unclear. Current evidence suggests that bacterial vaginosis, which is a likely risk factor for HIV infection, may be a mediator of the association between intravaginal practices and HIV. Although biologically plausible mechanisms exist, there is currently little epidemiological evidence suggesting that intravaginal practices increase women’s susceptibility to HIV infection. Further research into factors that increase women’s susceptibility to HIV will help to inform the design of vaginal microbicides and other HIV prevention interventions.

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Traditional intravaginal practices and the heterosexual transmission of disease: a review.

Sex Transm Dis. 2000 Apr;27(4):183-7.

Traditional intravaginal practices and the heterosexual transmission of disease: a review.

Brown JE, Brown RC

Community Health Department Chogoria Hospital, Kenya.

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To review reports on the use and effects of traditional intravaginal substances and practices.

METHOD: The medical and social science literature of the past 50 years regarding use and effects of traditional intravaginal substances and practices is reviewed.

RESULTS: Traditional intravaginal practices have been described in 11 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and also in Qatar, Indonesia, Thailand, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Women’s reasons for the practices include personal hygiene, disease prevention or treatment, and enhancement of sexual experience. Few studies document damage to the vaginal epithelium or changes in vaginal flora due to these practices. No prospective studies link these practices to disease transmission.

CONCLUSION: The determination of how these practices affect disease transmission will require precise definition of independent variables, which is difficult because of the diversity of the practices. It is appropriate to search for intervening variables; specifically, the effects on the vaginal pH, flora, and epithelium.

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In search of sexual pleasure and fidelity: vaginal practices in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Cult Health Sex. 2009 Apr;11(3):267-83.

In search of sexual pleasure and fidelity: vaginal practices in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Scorgie F, Kunene B, Smit JA, Manzini N, Chersich MF, Preston-Whyte EM.

Centre for HIV/AIDS Network (HIVAN), University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. fscorgie@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Vaginal practices, such as intra-vaginal cleansing, drying and tightening, are suspected of placing women at higher risk of acquiring HIV and STIs. Yet, there is limited understanding of what these practices entail, what motivates women to undertake them and what their socio-cultural and historical meanings are. This paper explores the range of vaginal practices used by women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and locates these within the context of local patterns of migration and understandings of sexual health and pleasure. Study activities took place at an urban and rural site employing qualitative research techniques: semi-structured interviewing and an additional ethnographic component in the rural site. Vaginal practices were believed to be ubiquitous and a wide range of substances and procedures were described. Strong motivations for vaginal practices included women’s desire to enhance men’s sexual pleasure, ensure men’s fidelity and exercise agency and control in their relationships. The common use of traditional medicines in this quest to maintain stable relationships and affect the course of love, suggests a complexity that cannot be captured by simple terms like ‘dry sex’. We argue instead that any interventions to change women’s reliance on vaginal practices must recognise and attend to the broader social contexts in which they are embedded.

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Predictors of vaginal practices for sex and hygiene in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: findings of a household survey and qualitative inquiry.

Cult Health Sex. 2011 Apr;13(4):381-98.

Predictors of vaginal practices for sex and hygiene in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: findings of a household survey and qualitative inquiry.

Scorgie F, Smit JA, Kunene B, Martin-Hilber A, Beksinska M, Chersich MF

Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. fscorgie@match.org.za

Abstract

Vaginal practices in sub-Saharan Africa may increase HIV transmission and have important implications for development of microbicides and future HIV prevention technologies. It remains unclear which women undertake vaginal practices and what factors predict prevalence, practice type and choice of products. Using cross-sectional data from mixed research methods, we identify factors associated with vaginal practices among women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Data were gathered through focus group discussions, in-depth and key-informant interviews, followed by a province-wide, multi-stage cluster household survey, using structured questionnaires in face-to-face interviews with 867 women. This paper details six types of vaginal practices, which–despite their individual distinctiveness and diverse motivations–may be clustered into two broad groups: those undertaken for purposes of ‘hygiene’ (genital washing, douching and application) and those for ‘sexual motivations’ (application, insertion, ingestion and incisions). Multivariate analysis found significant associations between ‘hygiene’ practices and media access, religiosity and transactional sex. ‘Sexual’ practices were associated with partner concurrency, religiosity and use of injectable hormonal contraceptives. Future interventions relating to vaginal practices as well as microbicides need to reflect this characterisation of practices as sexual- and/or hygiene-related.

This article can be purchased in this LINK