Determinants of Elongation of the Labia Minora in Tete Province, Central Mozambique: Findings of a Household Survey

Guillermo Martínez Pérez, Brigitte Bagnol, Matthew Chersich, Esperanza Mariano, Francisco Mbofana, Terence Hull, Adriane Martin Hilber

Abstract

A WHO-supported provincial-level population-based survey was conducted in 2007 to understand the determinants and implications for health of vaginal practices. A total of 919 women aged 18-60 were selected randomly for enrolment. This is the first population-based study of females in Tete Province, Mozambique. At some time over their lives, 98.8% of women had practiced elongation of their labia minora and a quarter (24.0%) had done so in the past month. Currently practicing women were more likely to have engaged in sex recently, and used contraceptives and condoms at last sex than women who had stopped labial elongation. Younger age, residence in rural areas and having two or more male partners were also determinants of current practice. Women commonly reported they practiced for no specific reason (62.8%). Discomforting itchiness and lower abdominal pain were more frequent in women who had stopped labial elongation than in women who were currently practicing. Although women may not report current vaginal ill health, it is possible that prospective cohort studies could uncover alterations in genital vaginal flora or other indicators of impact on women’s health. The findings of this study do not suggest that labial elongation is linked with high-risk behaviors for HIV transmission. (Afr J Reprod Health 2016; 20[2]: 111-121).

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References

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