Perceptions of morbidity related to reproductive tract infection among women in two rural communities of Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam
Nguyen Thi Hoa Minh; Gardner,Michelle; Elias,Christopher J.
Culture, Health and Sexuality 4(2): 153-171
Publication date: 2002
This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study of women's perceptions of reproductive tract infection in two communes in northern Viet Nam. The objective of the study was to gain information concerning women's perceptions of reproductive tract infection and their associated symptoms and help seeking behaviours. Focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, free listings and pile sortings were conducted with approximately 230 women. Although infections are perceived to be common and to cause much discomfort, there is little consistency in the reporting of symptoms, causes and consequences of infection. Perceived causes are predominantly associated with dampness and exposure to dirty water, although there is also a perceived association with medical procedures such as IUD insertion and abortion. Little attention is paid to the risk of sexual transmission. Treatment is generally with guava liquid and 'hygienic washes' at home, with women only consulting a health care provider if symptoms persist or worsen. The findings highlight the need for further training of providers to understand better the perceptions of women; the expansion of information activities, particularly to include accurate information on reproductive physiology, the causes of infection and the possibility of sexual transmission; and strengthening the quality of IUD and abortion services.