Health-seeking behavior of Karachi women with reproductive tract infections
Bhatti,Lubna Ishaq; Fikree,Fariyal F.
Social Science and Medicine 54(1): 105-117
Publication date: 2002
To explore the contextual factors influencing health-seeking behavior of women in Karachi regarding reproductive tract infections, 18 women with reproductive tract infections from different clinics and community settings were identified and in-depth interviews were conducted. Physicians in our study diagnosed a woman to have lower reproductive tract infection if she complained of malodorous vaginal discharge with or without perineal itching; and to have pelvic inflammatory disease or upper reproductive tract infection if she had any two of the following complaints: malodorous vaginal discharge, menstrual irregularities, lower abdominal pain or dyspareunia. Women consulted a variety of healthcare providers in their pursuit for treatment, mainly allopathic doctors and hakims. The different treatments prescribed to women ranged from oral and intravaginal medications to various home remedies including refraining from specific foods. Causes of reproductive tract infections reported were "melting bones", consuming foods with perceived hot composition, poor personal hygiene and procedures like dilatation and curettage, delivery and induced abortions. None reported sexually transmitted diseases as the perceived cause of their problem. Interference with religious activities, sexual relationships or socializing was reported as consequences of reproductive tract infections, in addition to lower abdominal pain, menstrual irregularities, backache and kamzori (weakness). Pakistani women seek care for reproductive tract infections and visit a variety of providers, though causes and treatments offered are usually not related to sexually transmitted diseases. We therefore suggest training of healthcare providers for appropriate counseling and that treatment management protocols be advocated.