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Table 2 Summary of intravaginal practices reported by women and men taking part in this study, using the classification proposed in the WHO Gender, Sexuality and Vaginal Practices Study [29]1

From: Intravaginal practices and microbicide acceptability in Papua New Guinea: implications for HIV prevention in a moderate-prevalence setting

WHO Classification of Intravaginal Practices IVP reported in this study Motivators for IVP reported in this study
External washing (cleaning vulva / external genitalia) · soap and water – to stop smell / remove dirt
– to prevent sickness in the womb
– to have children
– to please sexual partners
Intravaginal cleansing (internal cleansing or washing of the vagina) · ‘Klina’ laundry soap – for genital cleansing
· bath soap and water – to help remove excess fluids
– to please male sexual partners
– to maintain reproductive health
External application (rubbing or placing products onto the vulva / external genitalia) Not reported Not reported
Intravaginal insertion (pushing or placing something inside the vagina) · cotton, paper, tampons – to absorb menstrual blood
‘virgin soap’ – to tighten vaginal wall in order to increase male partner pleasure
· ‘Klina’ laundry soap – to induce abortion
– to help release menstrual blood
– for cleansing the vagina
· crushed garlic – to help ensure a healthy womb
– to contract cervix after childbirth
Oral ingestion · bark / leaves of specific trees – to prevent pregnancy
· ‘Klina’ laundry soap – to induce abortion
Vaginal steaming or smoking (sitting above a source of heat on which water and herbs or oils are placed to create steam or smoke) · Steaming (using boiled water infused with herbs / garlic /bark / leaves) – to facilitate flow of menstrual blood and prevent blockages
· Smoking (using burnt coconut leaves) – to cleanse and tighten the vagina
Anatomical modification (“cutting and pulling” for modifying the vulva; restoration of the hymen) Vulva piercing – to increase sexual pleasure (male / female)
  1. 1IVP and motivators reported by a representative sample of those interviewed, unless otherwise indicated.