Vaginal wetness: an underestimated problem experienced by progestogen injectable contraceptive users in South Africa

Soc Sci Med. 2002 Nov;55(9):1511-22. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(01)00284-2.


This paper reports on the common experience of vaginal wetness amongst South African users of progestogen-only injectable contraceptives. The observations emerged in the course of a community-based cross-sectional household survey undertaken in a rural district of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The purpose of the survey was to elicit self-reporting on side effects of injectable contraceptive methods. Eight hundred and forty-eight women aged 15-49 were interviewed and 22.1% reported current use of an injectable contraceptive method, either depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) or norethisterone oenanthate (Nur-Isterate). Other modern methods used were oral hormonal contraceptives (4.5%), male condoms (1.3%), the intrauterine device (0.1%), and tubal ligation (0.1%). Vaginal wetness was reported by 18.4% of users and was one of the most common side effects, second only to amenorrhoea (62.5%). It was also what 17.5% of the women liked least about using this method. According to almost half the respondents, men regard women who use the injectable contraceptive as "wet", "cold" and/or "tasteless". These survey findings were supported by participants of 14 focus group interviews held in the sub-district. Since some South African men may prefer dry sex the perception that the injectable contraceptive increases vaginal wetness may be problematic for women who use it. Whilst vaginal wetness can only be classified as a subjective side effect at this stage, further investigations are needed as many South African women opt to use this method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / chemically induced
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage*
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / administration & dosage*
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Norethindrone / administration & dosage*
  • Norethindrone / adverse effects*
  • Norethindrone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Population
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • South Africa
  • Vaginal Discharge / chemically induced*


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate
  • norethindrone enanthate
  • Norethindrone