‘You’ll always stay right’: understanding vaginal products and the motivations for use among adolescent and young women in rural KZN
Karim, Quarraisha Abdool
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The use of vaginal products may increase the risk of HIV infection by affecting the vaginal biome. Understanding what vaginal products young women are using, and why, is key to assessing the complexity of sexual health and risk. This study reports on findings from research with adolescent and young women in rural KwaZulu-Natal about the vaginal products they use and motivations for using them. The study identified over 26 products that young women used to enhance their sexual experience and found some young women spent time preparing and sourcing vaginal products in order to pleasure and retain partners. Opinions differed about vaginal product use. While some women perceived that vaginal products could provide a means of out-performing other women, retaining a partner and providing sexual autonomy, there was a stigma attached to using them. Study findings highlight the social value of using vaginal products, especially in settings where partner retention is linked to economic survival. Expanding our understanding of what products are used and the reasons young women use them warrants continued investigation.
- Research Articles (SoPH)