The use and physical effects of intravaginal substances in Zairian women

Sex Transm Dis. 1993 Mar-Apr;20(2):96-9. doi: 10.1097/00007435-199303000-00007.


Women in Kananga, Zaire, sometimes insert substances into the vagina to enhance sexual pleasure. The objective of this study was to ascertain: 1) what intravaginal substances are used, 2) the prevalence and frequency of their use, and 3) the visible effects they produce on the female genitalia. Focus group discussions with women and men were conducted, and both prostitutes and non-prostitutes were interviewed individually about their sexual preferences and practices. The cervices and vaginae of eight women were inspected and photographed before and after the insertion of commonly used substances. It was found that Kananga residents preferred a "dry-tight" vagina during coitus. They named thirty substances (leaves and powders) that women insert to produce this sensation. Twenty-one of 50 prostitutes (42%), and 17 of 49 non-prostitutes (35%), had used such intravaginal substances. Inspection of the genitalia showed that five different leaves produced inflammatory reactions that lasted up to a week. These genital irritations might facilitate the transmission of pathogenic organisms. Investigators elsewhere should study the use of intravaginal substances and their relationship to sexually transmitted diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Adult
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Sex Work
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Vagina / drug effects*
  • Vagina / pathology
  • Vaginitis / chemically induced
  • Vaginitis / etiology*