Factors Influencing Vaginal Practices among Sexually Active Women in an urban Town along a Trans African highway in Southwestern Uganda
Josephine Bayigga 1, 2, Martin John Buwembo1, Christine Atuhairwe 2
1MRC/UVRI &LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, Entebbe
2Clarke International University, Namuwongo, Uganda
Vaginal practices are done worldwide by women to attain a projected desirable state. The frequency, application and motivations vary by region and population. Several researchers report vaginal practices as a contributing factor to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). We investigated factors influencing vaginal practices among sexually active women in Lyantonde town and the relationship with STI acquisition.
A cross sectional study was conducted among 143 sexually active women ages 18-45 years from Lyantonde town (Latitude: -0.4070; Longitude: 31.1575) along the Trans African highway in Southwestern Uganda. These were selected through convenience random sampling. Interviewer administered questionnaires and two focus group discussions were conducted to collect data. Statistical data analysis was done using Stata version 12, Chi-square test was used to determine association and a p-value of 0.05 was considered significant. Qualitative data was thematically analyzed.
Almost all women reported vaginal practices (98.6%, n=141) these included use of; water 24% (n=107), douching 26%(n=116), cloth 20%(n=88), soap 17% (n=78), herbs 11% (n=48), others were washing powder, perfume, soda, Jelly, cooking oil, cotton and paper at 3%(n=13). General hygiene was the main motivation reported by all of the women, followed by cleaning before or after sex 90.9% (n=130), preparing the vagina for sex (not to clean) 79.7% (n=114) and to treat infections 29.4% (42). Cultural norms and values, peer influence, the persuasive market and affordability accelerated utilization of vaginal products. Education was associated with use of vaginal practices x2 12.359, p-value 0.015. Lesser educated women were three times likely to engage in vaginal practices compared to their counterparts. There was no association between vaginal practices and susceptibility to STIs among in this population.
General hygiene is a major motivation for vaginal practices in this population. However, incidence of STIs could have also been affected by under or over reporting of symptoms.