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.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Ceremonial Behavior
  • Condoms*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Erotica*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Mozambique
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • Social Values
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology
  • Vagina* / injuries
  • Vulva*
  • Young Adult