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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.