Experts have warned of the implications and multiple health risks associated with women applying tobacco powder in their genitals.
The ‘miracle recipe’ as it is called in many parts of Africa, is made from dried tobacco leaves and the root of a tree called “tangora” or native plants such as “kankouran mano” or “koundinding.
The practice is common in many West African countries including The Gambia.
Dr. Awa Jah, a gynecologist, warned that usage of tobacco power comes with many health implications and no benefits whatsoever. She said that pregnant women who use it are likely to develop infections before or after child birth. She added that its’ most serious effect is the possibility of the user developing cancer.
Mba Fatou, a housewife, while admitting that tobacco cures ailments like muscle or joint pains, cautioned that it is very harmful for women who apply it on their genitals. She also warned that it might raise the risk of cancer and still birth.
Another woman, Ndey Fatou Camara, who also elaborated on the issue, said that women who use tobacco powder on their genitals are doing more harm than good to themselves. “We urge the health authorities to help sensitise the women and girls about tobacco usage. It is not only used in The Gambia but Worldwide by both young and old people, just to increase their sexual pleasure in their matrimonial homes,” she added.
She then advised women to stop using tobacco especially those that are not yet married because it might prevent them from getting pregnant.
Fatou Camara added that it is disheartening that many women blame doctors for the high maternal mortality rate in recent times, knowing full well that they [women] are the main cause of it.
Medical Experts Warning
Medical experts say the use of tobacco on genitals could cause a woman to develop complications during childbirth, as it brings too great an increase in the rate of uterine contractions, which sometimes causes a decrease in oxygenation in the fetus, resulting in stillbirth or, in other cases, neonatal death. A study on the impact of smoking on female genitals, published in January 2018 in the British journal Scientific Reports found that smoking changes vaginal flora and that these changes put women who smoke at a high risk of vaginal infections. Medical experts opine that these risks could be higher in women who put tobacco directly in contact with their vaginal and cervical mucosa. This area is very sensitive and attacking it with a product made of tobacco and soda could be ‘suicidal’.
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